It began with numerous discussions about the tremendous musical talent in the Salem and surrounding areas, but there not being a place where teens could come together on a regular basis, learn from music professionals as a group, and play some great music together as a band. Over time those conversations evolved into planning, developing, promoting and starting up a music training program that was educational, rewarding and fun. As a result, the first-ever RiverCity Rock Star Academy rehearsal commenced on February 3rd, 2015.
On that date in early February 2015, we walked in to our temporary one-room ‘studio’ at the Reed Opera House not knowing if any students would actually show up for a brand new music program, with no established reputation. Who actually showed up was a group of 14 reserved, but curious and enthusiastic teenagers who didn’t know each other, and our three teachers eager to work with them. By the end of the first rehearsal, the students were playing the sounds of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Cream.
Fast-forward just 12 short months. So much had happened……….
- RiverCity Rock Star Academy moved to a more permanent space we can now call ‘home’ with three fully-equipped studio/rehearsal rooms, student lounge/hang-out space, waiting area, office and storage space.
- 140 students had participated in programs, workshops, lessons and camps.
- 11 teachers with exceptional musical backgrounds and teaching experience have mentored and instructed our students.
- In addition to the inaugural Rockers Program (for teens ages 12-18), RiverCity Rock Star Academy began offering three additional programs - Pop Rocks (ages 6-11), Young Rockers (ages 8-14) and Renegade Rockers (ages 18+).
- RiverCity Rock Star Academy began offering Songwriting, Recording and Guitar Workshops, Private Lessons for guitar, bass, drums, keys, and vocals, as well as Rock Star Summer Camps.
- RiverCity Rock Star Academy students had performed for over 3,500 guests, family and fans at 15 events including Rock The Bricks; River Rock Concert Series; TEDxSalem; Salem Sunday Streets; RiverCity Rock Star Academy Grand Opening and Salem Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting; Elsinore Theatre’s ‘Let’s Go Out To The Lobby’; Salem Chamber of Commerce Agri-Business Banquet; as well as six season shows and two camp shows.
- Students had performed over 120 songs, including Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’; other bands covered include The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Mazzy Star, Jimi Hendrix, Ramones, Foo Fighters, Black Sabbath, Heart, The White Stripes, ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Tom Petty, Beastie Boys, and The Rolling Stones, just to name a few.
- Students had written and recorded 11 original songs as part of the Song Writing and Recording Workshops.
- RiverCity Rock Star Academy is now able to offer tuition scholarships to eligible students thanks to the Rock School Scholarship Fund and generous community donors.
- RiverCity Rock Star Academy is now partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Salem so that students can participate in our programs, thanks to the generous support of community donors
Even since our 1-year anniversary in February 2016, many more achievements have been made, including the addition of Legends of Rock and the Royals (audition-only, performance) programs, as well as more students, songs, and performances.
However, even more important than numbers and other achievements is the community that has developed around RiverCity Rock Star Academy and the unbelievable support of that community. RiverCity Rock Star Academy has simply been the catalyst for life-long friendships, developing on-going community collaboration, improving and enhancing student confidence, encouraging the formation of bands, and uncovering and showcasing musical talent, among so many other things.
Although running RiverCity Rock Star Academy can sometimes be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting, it is definitely the most rewarding, exciting, and satisfying venture for us. To say we are thankful is an understatement.