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At this school, kids get in trouble if they don't turn up the music

The real-life School of Rock teaches young musicians how to jam.

November 25, 2010|By Melinda Newman, Special to the Los Angeles Times

All Stars bassist Max Bouvrie, who studies at the North Hollywood school, worried about smudging "the make-up the lady put on me" before the ABC taping but afterward was all smiles. "School of Rock puts a huge emphasis on respect," the 15-year-old says. "When someone else is talking, you don't play. When someone else is playing solo, you step back.... All these things blatantly play a role on stage, but even more so in the real word. It's how you should act in school or when you walk down the street."

The new West L.A. site resides in a one-story, stand-alone stucco structure, shadowed by office towers due west of the Wilshire Corridor. Daniel Leanse, the executive director for the Westside school, is a former New Christy Minstrel who was most recently the cantorial soloist at Village Temple in New York City. "I coached hundreds of kids for B'nei Mitzvah," says Leanse, who studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music and has always kept a hand in the secular music world. "When I saw School of Rock, I thought, I've had all this fun and success teaching kids something they don't really want to do; how much fun would it be to teach them to play rock 'n' roll?"

With budget cuts slashing into music programs, the School of Rock has unintentionally found itself fulfilling an instructional role once provided by public schools. "We're trying to find ways we can be more integrated into the schools around our schools because we think it's the logical thing to do," Catalano says. The School of Rock also hopes to formalize some kind of scholarship program. "There should be a way for kids who can't afford us to get the same experience. We have a commitment to the shareholders, but also to the community."

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