School of Rock is the world’s leading music education company. At the end of 2019, it had 270 franchises operating in nine countries serving 40,000 students. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, like all schools, this one had to shut down in-person instruction. Immediately, the company launched School of Rock Remote, giving its students access to their music instructors via video conferencing. Then one day, the company arranged for its students to speak with Jay Weinberg, the drummer of Slipknot. 1,600 people signed up and the chat room exploded.
This clued President and CEO Rob Price into the fact that he’d tapped into a big idea. It led to the launch of School of Rock Artist Sessions, connecting music students to their idols via online tutorials and Q&As. Musicians with Sum 41, The P!NK Band, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder already have participated. Furthermore, these iconic performing artists are donating their time to help raise awareness for School of Rock’s philanthropic partner, the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.
“During the Coronavirus pandemic, artists are clamoring to create and share and connect with fans. We’ve got a community of students who are looking to engage and eager to learn,” says Price. “These famous musical artists are going beyond the flash and sizzle to talk about the substance of their careers.”
School of Rock was built on an audacious idea – that the traditional model of music lessons needed to be shaken up. One-on-one lessons are complemented with performance training. Students are assembled into bands and work for 10 to 12 weeks at a time on full-scale shows, which are put on at real venues. They gain a combination of technical proficiency and life skills as a result.
Price had careers in consulting, marketing, merchandising and general management prior to being recruited to lead School of Rock. Only here, he says, did he discover what a calling feels like. As a lifelong musician and father to three musical sons, he has a deep passion about the life-changing influence of creative expression. “I never would have imagined being able to integrate my professional and personal interests so completely as I have at School of Rock,” he says.
Intellectual and creative exploration is not the total story, Price emphasizes. There is a pandemic of anxiety and depression that has grown more dangerous over the years. The second-leading killer of young people is suicide. “This puts us on the front lines with our young students,” says Price. Especially now, given how the isolation, anxiety and helplessness of the Coronavirus pandemic, with its subsequent school closures and economic downturn, and widespread protests of racial injustice are fueling a mental health crisis.
To others looking to tap into their life purpose, Price offers this advice. “Determine what you love to do in your free time that gives your greatest joy. It has become too easy to be a passive spectator of other people’s passions. We could spend all our waking hours consuming what other people create – movies, TV, songs, etc. Discovering something you love to create may be the greatest clue as to what you want to help others to create.
“Once discovered, be realistic that few people will have their dream job early in life. But don’t be discouraged. There is an endless amount of need for competent people to put their energies into their passion outside the workplace by supporting organizations and individuals in need of someone who cares deeply about what is most important to them. While you wait for your dream job, hone your passion and skills. Shape your purpose and your portfolio. Don’t wait for the stars to align. Do an amazing job at your job, even if it is boring. As you do, you become more valuable to those who are looking for their dream candidate for your dream job.”
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