Locals start Summit Academy of Rock
April 22, 2009
It’s not exactly “School of Rock,” because founder Doug Roessel isn’t a down-and-out wannabe musician taking advantage of kids. But the premise is the same: Get kids (and adults) psyched about playing instruments by first teaching them rockin’ songs they want to play.
Roessel, owner of Elevation Fitness in Dillon, has transformed photographer Matt Lit’s old space in town into a music studio, complete with a stage, drum kit, lighting and PA system.
He intends to use the room for band practice, not for himself, but for his students ” both kids and adults.
His weekly lesson package includes a half-hour private lesson and an hour performance lesson. He will match kids who sing or play guitar, bass or drums with kids of similar musical ability. Together, they’ll create a band, hash out what songs they want to
play, then perform at local venues (such as a restaurant or cafe).
For adults, he has dreamed up Fantasy Camps, during which four to six adults come together for a weekend, choose and learn songs Friday night (refreshments and instructors provided), show up for two- to three-hour sessions Saturday morning and afternoon and a few hours Sunday, then jam at a bar as the finale. Fantasy Camps will be available one or two weekends a month, and Roessel is in the process of finding small performance venues.
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“It’s all based on learning and then performing,” Roessel said. “A lot of people sit around and play guitar, and they never get out.”
Roessel, who teaches students
guitar, studied music for 12 years
and has performed professionally for 26 years. He currently plays with Mystery Achievement, a Pretenders tribute band. Ten years ago, he was part of Another Barrel of Monkeys, a Denver band that recorded its own album.
“I say we almost made it, if it weren’t for Yoko Ono,” he said.
Tim Rafferty, who has played with Mooseknuckle for the past four years, will teach drums, and Ivo Waerlop, a local chiropractor who also happens to have 30 years of performance experience, is ready to instruct students in vocals, guitar and bass.
Roessel currently has a handful of students, “most (whom) have been through the Suzuki program and dropped it,” he said. “Once they learn what they want to, they pick up the guitar without being told, and they’re getting good, and they want to put the pieces together (with a band) instead of sitting in the basement and playing Guitar Hero.”
Eight-year-old Weston Walters is one of Roessel’s students who is excited about the prospect of being in a band. He and his mother, Beth Walters, said they appreciate the way Roessel makes learning fun. One of the first things Roessel taught Weston was a blues scale. Then he introduced Weston to “Fly By Night” by Rush, instructing Weston to research the lead guitar player and find out what kind of guitar he plays, then download the song and follow along.
“He lets us mess around with our guitar and see what we can do,” Weston said. “I tuned, I taught myself part of the ‘Iron Man’ theme song, and I made up a few songs. (Now) I want
to play with other people and want
to be in front of people.”
Rafferty sees the academy as another outlet to bring music to Summit and Park counties, as well as a way to
generally share music.
“The premise here is to show that music is available to everybody, that they don’t have to sit and be by themselves,” Roessel said. “They can go out and play with others ” it’s just a matter of learning.”
Or, as Rafferty so eloquently puts it:
“Let’s get rockin’.”