Kids take rock to the top |

Kids take rock to the top

Down the hall from empty classrooms Thursday afternoon at Ecker Hill Middle School came the familiar sounds of classic rock ‘n roll: the electric guitar, drums and the keyboard.

A group of students, some too young to be in middle school, had turned the commons area into a bumping concert hall. They were singing Baba O’Riley by The Who on an impromptu stage ribboned off with yellow tape.

"Out here in the fields

I fight for my meals

I get my back into living

I Don’t need to fight

To prove I’m right

I Don’t need to be forgiven

Don’t cry

Don’t raise your eyes

It’s only teenage wasteland."

Never mind some of the kids enrolled in Paul Green’s School of Rock are barely teenagers.

The school has more than 30 locations nationwide and its students have performed more than 350 concerts in venues ranging from clubs to music festivals across the country. It teaches kids about rock music and how to be a musician, featuring seasonal shows, private lessons, group rehearsals, workshops and special guests.

The Park City group will play concerts on Friday, May 30, and Saturday the 31 as well as June 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. at Ecker Hill.

Jay Hartman, a 10-year-old from McPolin Elementary School, plays keyboard and sings.

"It’s harder [to play] with seventh graders in the audience," Jay said, nudging up his fedora to rub his forehead. "It’s an advantage to be a musician. With the School of Rock you can have a lot of fun while you’re waiting. The solos are awesome."

Kids from Park City’s School of Rock covered songs from The Who and AC/DC in the rehearsal. Eager parents waved cameras in their faces and feedback roared from the speakers, as though the show were in a stadium rather than a school.

Some of the performers wore skinny jeans and faded T-shirts and looked like rock stars, aloof and beautiful.

Peter Hartman, Jay’s dad, spent most of the show milling around backstage near a row of lockers. "Once I heard [School of Rock] was with Park City Continuing Ed, I thought it was a great opportunity for the boys to learn to play in a group setting instead of playing alone," he said. "The difference between this and a piano recital is night and day."

Since joining school of rock, one of Hartman’s sons has also joined a band, Two Buck Tux, which plans to play at the Silly Market this summer. "I can pursue my rock dreams vicariously through my children," Hartman laughed. "Now I know what it’s like to be a roadie. My kids order me to carry their equipment because it’s too heavy."

Rocking out during shows is one of the best parts of participating in School of Rock, said Nate Kintner, a 13-year-old from Park City Academy who plays the electric guitar. "It’s awesome," he said. A seventh grader, Nate is in his second "season" with the School of Rock. He’s got the holes in his jeans to prove it, not to mention a little swagger on stage. "It’s one of those moments when nothing really happens. It’s harder when you know people in the crowd."

The crowd Thursday consisted of about 50 kids sitting cross-legged on the floor. Some kept time with their feet, other gabbed with friends, but Nate took a no-nonsense approach to the show.

He knows how lucky he is to be playing guitar. He used to take piano.

"You’re learning the entire song," he said. You’re playing actual concerts with guitars."

Kendall and Leisl Simmons have three kids in the School of Rock. Joseph, 9, plays bass; Rewson, 11, plays drums; and August, 15, plays guitar. "There’s no discussion about practicing," Leisl said. It’s symbiotic. And it’s a lot better than sitting in a community church."

The Simmons decided to enroll their boys in the School of Rock to improve their chances at music scholarships. "The competition is greater in skiing than in music," Leisl Simmons said. Her plan appears to be working. August, who will be a 10th grader next year, was awarded first chair in his varsity guitar band. "We wish we would have had a program like this as kids," she said.

Beau Milkis, 10, may only be in the fifth grade, but he, like most of his friends, wants to grow up to be a musician. "I’ve been singing forever and stuff but I like to be known for guitar," he said. "Sometimes you’re kind of like, ‘What if I mess up?’"

Info Box:


The Paul Green School of Rock Music is a tuition-based, year-round program that offers weekly individual lessons, rehearsals and performance participation in six concerts a year for $225 per month.

Additional instrument study: $225/month Weekly vocal lessons: $115/month Who:

The program is administered by the Park City School District by: Jane Toly Leisure Learning Coordinator Park City School District (435) 615-0215 Or register on-line at: Where: Ecker Hill Middle School 2465 West Kilby Road Park City, UT 84098


"The Who" cover band plays Friday, May 30, and Saturday the 31 at Ecker Hill Elementary School at 7 p.m.

"AC/DC" cover band plays June 6 and 7 at Ecker Hill Elementary School at 7 p.m.

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