By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 23, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The rhythmic motion of 11 heads nodding to the beat of a semitogether version of the Boys Like Girls' tune "Thunder" introduced passersby to the newest craze to hit the installation here. Offered by School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES) Rock School has grown in popularity its first month. Rock School is a program that allows young amateur musicians to experience the level of musicianship, commitment and dedication it takes to succeed in today's music world. Students max their musical potential by building solid instrument skills, applying music theory and gaining experience in live performance. Mark Santos, music educator and owner of Hawaii MusicWorks, instructs the weekly class. Santos, evidently a rocker himself - in black jeans and T-shirt, with bangs that fall faintly below his eyebrows - guided the children by engaging them in the music they relate to. "This is a great way to get beginners enthused about learning music," said Santos. "This allows them to discover their natural ability." Santos, along with music educator Ted Tolentino, taught the young rockers basic chords, bridges and transitions needed to master the popular rock song. "It's amazing what these kids have learned in the short time we have been with them," said Santos. "They pay attention and really want to learn." Three piano players lined the back wall, five guitar players gathered around a table a few feet away, and three drummers circled around Tolentino as he pounded his fist in the air to the beat, showing them the necessary percussion pattern. This ensemble of new musicians represents SKIES' first "rock band" currently underway. "Pay attention to the music and listen to each other," said Santos to the class. "You are a band. Work together." Santos spoke of proper stage etiquette and gave helpful hints to keep the players on beat. Children internalized rhythm with the interactive and effective learning techniques from Santos and Tolentino. "Students develop an ear musically," said Santos. "Developing the foundation of musical understanding can later help them understand music theory." Practicing helps as well, according to 7-year-old Chloe Traffanstedt. "When I come home from school, I do my homework, then I practice my guitar," said Traffanstedt. "I'm trying my best." Brushing her long blonde hair out of the way in true "rock star" fashion, Traffanstedt then adjusted her child-size acoustic guitar, decorated with pink stars, and strummed a few chords. "I'm getting really good," she said. To appease the high demand, SKIES recently added three more classes. All filled up quickly. "The children love it," said Sandy Salisbury, SKIES administrator, Child and Youth Instructional Programs, Army Child, Youth & School Services (CYS2). "It's an inexpensive way to get music lessons, and the children always come out smiling." Rock School is open to children ages 7 to 17. Blue Star Card discounts apply. Each session runs approximately eight weeks. Group lessons, as well as one-on-one lessons for advanced students, are also available at Hawaii MusicWorks' Aiea location. Military discounts are available. Santos and his crew are dedicated to keeping the music alive for generations to come through innovative teaching methods and dedication from the young students. After all, rock 'n' roll will never die.