CJ Grandberry set off on a 10 day tour as music director this summer for the 2023 AllStars tour! AllStars is an audition based program featuring the top 1% of School of Rock students across the world. Students from the Performance Program and House Band are eligible to audition. Once selected, students get a taste of the rock star lifestyle including traveling on tour buses, doing publicity, and playing at famous venues and festivals. CJ got to oversee the Midwest leg of the tour all the way from the rehearsals to the students taking the big stage!
CJ also serves as School of Rock Elmhurst's music director! He oversees all the group programs and directs House Band. We got to ask him a few questions about his experience on AllStars and how it differed from House Band!
What was the most memorable moment on AllStars?
CJ: The most memorable moment of the tour was the end of the last show where we had the seniors come on stage and talk about their SOR experience and what it meant to them.
Almost all of the kids said that the ALLSTARS tour was the best thing they had ever done at SOR.
What was the most rewarding experience on AllStars?
CJ: The most rewarding part of the experience was seeing the audience react to hearing my AllStars team crush their songs and put on a high energy performance on stage.
As music director, what are you looking for when students audition for House Band? What sort of skills set them apart in the audition from students who unfortunately don't get in?
CJ: I'm looking for students who are passionate about music.
I want every kid to audition with confidence, enthusiasm and to show up prepared.
Favorite house band memory.
CJ: My favorite memory so far has been the kids performing at summerfest and hearing other houseband kids,MD's and corporate team members comment on how talented the kids are.
What is the biggest difference between a house band student and an allstars student? What would you say is one of the biggest things a student should work towards if they want to become an AllStar?
CJ: The biggest difference between a Houseband student and an AllStar is how prepared you are at the FIRST rehearsal.
AllStars put the work in well in advance of the first full rehearsal together and it shows. They also go above and beyond to help each other and serve the song.
What's the audition process like for house band at School of Rock Elmhurst?
CJ: 1 minute of a song by an artist from the following list:
The Rolling Stones
1 minute of a song by an artist of their choice.
(Choose something that contrasts your first selection stylistically)
3 Randomly Chosen Music Theory Questions.
What's the audition process like for AllStar auditions?
CJ: Same as the Houseband Audition, only you have to submit a video recording for the first round and choose which theory components to demonstrate.
The 2nd round is a live audition that you can only attend if you are chosen in the first round.
If you could give one piece of advice to students aspiring to grow in their skills in their instrument, what would it be?
CJ: Practice!!!!! (LIKE YOU LOVE IT)
What can students expect from house band? What kind of dedication is required to be in it, besides just practice and skill level?
CJ: As a houseband member you can expect to play with the best musicians in the school.
Play awesome one of a kind events!
Be challenged musically.
Become a better musician/person.
What can students expect while on tour with AllStars? What was the AllStar day to day like?
-Midwest Team Members will knock on your hotel door to let you know you are free to leave your room.
(Your Director will have posted in band a Breakfast being served and what time you are expected to be in the lobby with your luggage).
-Full Breakfast served in the Hotel Lobby.
-Board Charter bus after loading your luggage underneath.
(Travel to the next city w/ a stop for lunch)
-Unload luggage and new hotel and receive your room key and #.
(you'll have some time to shower and change before the gig if your director is scheduling beast like me)
-Back on the charter bus to head to the venue which is usually only 20-30 mins from the hotel.
-Unload the charter bus and setup the stage, sound check.
-Catered dinner in the green room before the show.
-Perform 3 (30 minute) sets w/ house bands playing in between your sets.
(AllStars open and close every gig)
-Tear down the stage and load up the Charter Bus so we can head back to the hotel.
(There are like 25 kids so this takes all of 15 minutes to tear down and set up the stage)
-2-3 hours of Free Time
(eat free snacks/ swim/ visit bandmates)
-Room Check/ Curfew
(Usually the MD will send an itinerary for the next day via Band)
Anything else you want to add about AllStars?
-You might get the opportunity to play Lollapalooza and reap the benefits of a 3 day all access pass that gets you into the artist camp (with all of the headliners)!
-You might also get the opportunity to record in a professional studio somewhere along the leg of the tour.
-7 different tours that the kids are randomly selected for with others from all over the world!