By Brian M. Howle
Back in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, kiddies, if you had the itch to get out there and play loud, frenetic music that your parents hated and all the proper folks around town frowned down upon, well, you had to really get creative to achieve your goal. Oh, you had to buy every issue of Teen Beat, Cream and Rolling Stone; you had to convince your stodgy old high school band director to cop some current sheet music that was harder to come by than stock in IBM; you had to search far and wide for mail-order catalogs for instruments and P.A. equipment (unless you had really cool parents who would drive you halfway across the country to a real music store); and finally, you had to listen to every 45 rpm record that came out – on your sister’s rickety, old, pink portable phonograph – to glean every note and nuance to that “hit & happenin’” song that was the current rage on AM radio. Yeah, you heard me, grasshopper – AM. FM wasn’t quite cool enough yet.
I’m tellin’ ya, it was tough going – enough to make ya cry.
But no more, dear hearts. Oh, no way one has to go through all of that malarkey in the new millennium – especially if you’re lucky enough to live along the Grand Strand; or more to the point, near Dino Capone’s School of Rock in Myrtle Beach, just off of Hwy. 501 and Forestbrook Road.
Dino moved to the area some 16 years ago, playing full-time in bands, and as all musicians know we have a “slow time” during the winters. So to supplement his income, he began teaching music at his home in the “off season” about three years ago, and as word of mouth spread he soon had approximately 40 students.
Well, those kids told their friends, and they told other kids who wanted to play – one looking for piano, one looking for guitar, one looking drums, one looking to sing; and as the number of students grew, he convinced some of his fellow musicians to join in the tutoring of the youngsters – still from the friendly confines of his humble abode.
So in June of 2009, he took the plunge and opened up the music school at the current location, providing students with instruments, instructors, practice rooms and classrooms.
About that time he had a drum student who had some friends who wanted to start their own band. Now, fortunately for them, they had something that someone, say, like myself didn’t have back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth looking for rock.
We had dinos. They had Dino.
And he started helping them out in all the little ways that make a huge difference in getting a successful band up and running – they could play individually, but not together. So he went out, listened to them, helped them out a little and in a couple of hours they were jammin’ out and Dino was having a great time mentoring them.
Then the student suggested that Dino make this part of his program – helping students to form bands, choose material, learn stage choreography and all the stuff that makes a band cohesive, successful, and – most of all – cool.
“So I thought to myself, hey, I know a lot of people in the business, and I know lots of venues, and have lots of musician friends,” Dino recalls. “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea! So I put it to the students, asked them if they would be interested in forming bands and getting a taste of live performance while they learned their chops and earned their stripes. And when we totaled up all the students who said ‘yes,’ we had enough to form four bands our first time out.”
The School of Rock’s curriculum approaches student placement differently than their academic peers. “We work all that out in the auditions,” says Capone. “We take into consideration their age – because you’re obviously not going to put a 7-year-old in a band with 17-year-olds; how well they play; how outgoing or shy they may be – so I try to group them together in the way they would naturally group themselves.”
Broken Strings will headline the show, one of four School of Rock program bands performing at HOB.
But there are some parameters that must be met. “They need to pass some requirements to even be considered for a band. You need to know your notes, your scales, your instrument before we’ll even put you there – so it’s not like anyone who just wants to be in a band gets put into a band,” he says with a more serious tone.
“Some people might get a little upset with that, too, because they may say, ‘well, my kid’s been playing ten years’ or whatever,” he continues. “Well, that’s fine. But he/she hasn’t been playing in a band for ten years. Big difference. So we try to keep the ages in line and the skill levels in line.”
Capone admits there are some exceptions, however. “We do have an advanced band, and I’m not as strict on the age requirement for that one. There are some of them you can just look at and tell, ‘this is what they’re gonna do with their lives.’ So as a result, we have a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old in that band,” he confides, but then coyly states, “It’s not my fault that the 10-year-old is the hottest drummer in the school, you know!”
But as with all things that make for a well-rounded person and life, it’s not just the music that makes the musician. Parents are often the first to see extremely positive changes in their children, and some have noted it in tags on event photos at the school’s website.
“Absolutely,” confirms Dino, “sometimes we get students coming in who are afraid to speak in public, let alone get up on a stage at the House of Blues and rock out. But that’s just going through the program here – we’ve got a very family-oriented atmosphere here. It’s not just, ‘I’m the company and you’re the customer,’ you know? We do things together, outside of the school. Like, we recently took parents and students and went to help build the new county park out at Carolina Forest, went there for the day and volunteered before all the band practices. The kids get together after the shows and get to know each other, and the parents get to do the same. There are friendships that have begun within the school that continue outside of it; they have dinner together and socialize, whereas before they didn’t even know each other.”
Capone also stresses one very important thing to his students. “It’s not a competition. We tell the kids right away, we’re all together – even if one is in a certain band and another is in a different band, we all respect each other. We all go to School of Rock, so we’re all family.”
After taking private, one-on-one lessons to hone their skills on their chosen instrument – and when the instructor deems them eligible – students aged 6-18 can bring that experience to life with the “Rockin’ Band Lessons.” Each “Rockin’ Band Lesson” consists of 2-1/2 hours practice weekly within a ten-week program (which really is closer to a 12-week event), taking the place of private lessons. Both students and parents MUST be committed to the 10 weeks of rehearsals – the band members MUST be able to count on each other for the show! They do a “warmup” show in front of the parents halfway thru a session, to ease them into public performance.
At that point, after they’ve worked out some songs together and begun to “gel,” they’re allowed to pick out their band name. They then perform at a public venue to complete the program. Students can come back into the program as a complete band, keep their name and keep going on; or if some engage in other seasonal or school sports events requiring their time, remaining members can join other bands or be in two bands at one time if they meet the requirements. Students can even play two different instruments in two different bands, if they choose to split their lesson time with, say, half of the time learning bass and half learning keyboards or vocals. If they qualify at auditions, they can then pursue dual “majors,” so to speak!
There is one notable difference in the lessons and programs at School of Rock. “We’re not a conservatory. We’re not a do-it-by-the-book-no-exceptions sorta deal,” Capone definitively declares. “We’re a real school. We do what we have to do to get the results. Our instructors are real musicians who play in real bands. And our students are, also. If you want to play in a symphony, then that’s probably what you should pursue. But if you want to rock out on a major stage like House of Blues in front of tons of people, then this is the place for you!”
The School’s four program bands (each performing a 30-40 minute set) are:
Shelley Sasser, 12
Adrian Edelen, 17
Heber Fragoso, 10
Dennis Fox, 14
Grayson Clark, 13
The School of the Super Cool
Carli Weintraub, 12
Mikayla Kramer, 8
Matt Maixner, 11
Hunter Barfield, 9
Josh Jordan, 14
Nicky Corrente, 9
Taylor O’Hara, 14
Tommy Meritt, 16
Adrian Edelen, 17
John Stewart, 16
Garett Randall, 12
Josh Jordan, 14
Andrew Wert, 12
Tommy Meritt, 16
Dennis Fox, 14
Evan Parrotta, 14
Dino Capone’s School of Rock is located at 4007-F Belle Terre Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC, 29579.
Hours are Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sun: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
Beginning to advanced drums
Originally from Pennsylvania, Dino Capone has been playing drums for over 20 years. As a student, he has taken hundreds of traditional and non-traditional lessons from professional teachers with backgrounds that include touring national acts, US Navy Band, Berkeley School of Music, and Percussion Institute of Technology. As a professional musician, he himself has toured most of the East Coast and Southeast regions of the US.
Intermeadiate to Advanced Guitar,
Beginner to Advanced Bass,
Alex Tucker got his first guitar when he was thirteen years old. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany but was raised in Coeburn, Virginia. Alex was recruited to be in his first semi-professional band at the age of 16. He moved to Myrtle Beach shortly after Hurricane Hugo, and has been a prominent fixture of the local music scene on the Grand Strand since 1990. Playing in numerous bands over the years, he has become a well known and respected guitarist.
Beginning to advanced guitar
Beginning to intermediate bass
Jared started rocking on guitar at the age of 14. Nirvana, Greenday, The Beatles, and Stevie Ray Vaughn were significant reasons why he started playing. In addition to guitar, Jared plays bass and writes his own songs. In over 16 years of playing, Jared has played in cover and original bands, recorded several CD’s and he is currently teaching private lessons and playing in a new project with Alex Tucker and Dino Capone.
Leslie (Les) R. Gray Jr.
Beginning to advanced drums
Les Gray, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, has been drumming for 25 years and has 20 years of live band experience. His musical influences are many and his biggest drumming influences include Neal Peart, Jon Bonham, Tommy Aldridge, Bill Ward, and Keith Moon. An all around pro-drummer, Les’s favorite styles are classic rock, heavy metal, new rock, blues, country, and beach music. As a teacher, Les loves to work with drummers of all ages that are eager to learn about drumming in a fun way.
Beginner to Advanced Guitar
Beginner to Advanced Vocals
Beginner to Intermediate Drums
Beginner to Intermediate Bass
Beginner Piano and Keyboard
Originally from central New Jersey, Matt Doda is a classically trained musician who began playing the guitar and drums at age 10. He holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Music from Coastal Carolina University where he studied under Tom Yoder and Dr. Daniel Hull. He is a former fist chair of the CCU Guitar Quartet and a member of the Concert Choir. Matt has been performing and teaching full time on the grand strand since 2006.
Beginner to advanced vocals and choreography
Angie Capone is a singer / songwriter that has been performing on the Grand Strand and in surrounding areas since 1997. She is currently playing solo shows and is the lead vocalist and bass player in “The Lazy River Band”.
As well as playing music full time, Capone attends Horry Georgetown Technical College obtaining her associates degree in Arts.
Honestly, folks, if you want to witness first-hand what a great group of promising musicians are being groomed right here along the Strand – by some of the best instructors anywhere – come out to House Of Blues this Friday and enjoy some amazing performances by some truly amazing young musicians. Because if you do, you’ll know for certain what folks will be saying about our music scene for years and years to come:
Myrtle Beach Rocks!
If You Go…
M.B. Rocks! Featuring Dino’s School of Rock
Friday, Dec. 3
8:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
House of Blues
4640 Hwy. 17 S.
N. Myrtle Beach, SC
This article was also published in Alternatives NewsMagazine, Vol 25 No. 7, Dec. 2 – 16, 2010 (Pages 10 & 11); and appears online at http://www.myrtlebeachalternatives.com.