Ryan DeMotte has become an integral part of our School of Rock family since joining the school at 10 years old. Both a houseband member and two time AllStar, Ryan is living proof of the level of musicianship you can achieve with practice and time. Most recently he piked up a Jazz minor in college to further expand his musical knowledge and is educating new School of Rock students at School of Rock Elmhurst.
To celebrate the upcoming All Stars tour, we wanted to highlight Ryan's experience playing at various different venues across the country.
1. Describe the moment when you found out you got into AllStars.
Ryan: When I got in my first time, I was completely shocked and super proud that I had been accepted as it had been a dream of mine since I saw the AllStars play at Lollapalooza when I was 12. It felt like my years of hard work and dedication really paid off, and I was thankful for my teachers and peers who had pushed me to this point.
2. What were you concerned or excited about once you got into AllStars?
Ryan: I was super excited about the opportunity to represent my school and go on tour in a part of the country I had never been to. I was very nervous though as you're surrounded by really incredible musicians so the expectations for you are super high.
3. What do you think are the biggest factors that ultimately prepared you to become an AllStar?
Ryan: The biggest factors that prepared me were learning how to pick out the specific notes of a melody by ear, learning how to improvise over any given song, and feeling comfortable performing theatrically on stage.
4. Describe your daily practice regimen before you got into All Stars.
Ryan: For years my practice routine has been inconsistent each day, as I play a variety of instruments with their own routines, but I try to never go a day without touching a keyboard. My typical formula is to warm up with exercises geared towards dexterity with a metronome, run through whatever songs I need to or want to work on, and then spend the rest of my time learning new songs by ear or improvising over different chord changes.
5. What kept you motivated and inspired to work hard enough to become an AllStar?
Ryan: I had always dreamed of the opportunity to tour and have the honor of being an AllStar, but I didn't realize how badly I wanted to do it until I didn't make it past the final round when I was 15. At that point, I realized what an honor it is and set out to make it the next year. I spent my summer preparing and didn't go a day without playing my audition songs or reviewing theory for 9 months. It just became a part of my routine, and with each time I played the keyboard, I reminded myself how badly I wanted this. I also knew that preparing for the audition was a good experience in general.
6. Aside from the festivals, what city or show did you enjoy playing the most?
Ryan: I remember the final show of my tour was at a venue called Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco as being one of my favorite moments in my life. We had fully gelled as a band and were playing at our best after 10 days together and my parents along with many of my bandmates' families had flown in to watch the show. The place was packed and we were incredibly proud of what we were able to put on. Before we went on, it was chilling looking around at a ton of posters from bands playing there before they got famous, like Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, Blink 182, Cake, Death Cab for Cutie, Elliot Smith, Green Day, Marilyn Manson, Alanis Morissette, Oasis, Queens of the Stone Age, Flaming Lips, the Strokes, and the White Stripes.
7. What region(s) did you get to go to? Any fun stories from your time playing there?
Ryan: I toured from Seattle down to San Francisco, and have incredible memories of messing around with people on my trip exploring Pike's Place market in Seattle and Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. On the last night of the tour our director took us out to a steakhouse on Fisher Man's Wharf that was absolutely incredible and a great way to end an amazing trip.
8. How was interacting and playing with other students you haven't met before? Did you find it challenging?
Ryan: It was a little weird at first, but we spent a good amount of bonding time and it wasn't that overwhelming considering everyone was new together. I also had fellow Elmhurst student Maddi Jones with me so that was awesome to make memories with her and support each other. Over the short 10 days, we all became really close with each other and still keep in touch now 4 years later.
The AllStar tour is an audition based tour that tours around the country, giving students the opportunity to play at famous venues and festivals where many famous artists have graced the stage there before. These students are the top 1% in the country and are immersed in the ultimate tour experience. From tour buses to press tours, our talented students get a taste of what life is like on the road for professional, touring musicians.