Real life "School of Rock" gets students involved with music

Real life "School of Rock" gets students involved with music

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The grunts, twangs, and thuds seeping from the small practice rooms at Baton Rouge Music Studios on Burbank St. may not sound like much, but to founder Doug Gay, they are the sounds of success.

"This is kind of a dream come true for us." said the paint-sprinkled Gay. He's putting the final coat of paint on what can only be described as a real life School of Rock.

In the 2003 movie of the same name, Jack Black plays a failing musician who hi-jacks a classroom of middle school students at a fancy prep school and teaches turns them into rock stars. Gay is far from a failing musician. He spent nearly a year touring the country with Louisiana blues man Tab Benoit.

But his passion is really teaching kids. His road to music school owner began back in 2004 with a single student in from Sherwood Middle School. "Her mother would sit on the couch in my living room," said Gay, "and I would teach snare drum and drum set in the living room."

One student wasn't enough for Gay. His dream was to fill more children with his passion for music. That's when his idea for a school was born. "When I searched the internet to try to find businesses that were doing this, there were none."

For the next several years, he taught students wherever he could. But lessons were not enough. His students wanted to perform. So Gay began grouping them into bands. Since 2006, Baton Rouge Music Studios' young bands have played at festivals and fairs throughout the capitol area. His signature group, The Young Band Nation Blues Project has even scored a spot at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival five straight years.

Graduates from Gay's school have moved on to the University of California at Berkley, and a few are currently touring the world with bands.

This weekend, Gay re-invents his music school with an open house this Saturday from 5-10pm. Gay's school still offers music and voice lessons, but his new facility has enough space for a recording studio for students, and a stage for live performances.

"They want something that feels like their own. With the venue, we can give them something they -- they own this."

For BRMS Operations Manager Carolyn Ray, it's all about creating well-rounded musicians, "What we really try to do is equip students with the skills, not just to be able to play their instruments, but to actually make it in the industry."

That's where the Blues Verse venue comes in. Students learn to manage, book, and promote their bands from writing and recording their own songs, to posting their music and performance pictures online and enticing fans to The Blues Verse. "They make money at the door. They sell some merch. They're business people." And they do not have no worry about some starting band problems, like being ripped off by their manager.

Baton Rouge Music Studios is located at 9237 Burbank Drive in Baton Rouge.

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