While any music education is good, programs that immerse pupils in the process of making music are probably the best bet for a student wanting to fast-track his way into the world of live music.
San Diego is fortunate to have just such a place of learning in Rock and Roll San Diego. The large building located in the shadow of the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena), houses just about everything a musician could need, from rehearsal rooms to recording studios, instrument repair to music labels.
Perhaps most important, the location also offers summer band camps, mixing lessons on playing an instrument with lessons on actually being in a band.
The school will offer up two week-long sessions for ages 7-17 on July 14-18 and July 21-25.
The teachers vary depending on the dates, but Rock and Roll San Diego is known for having world-class instructors, including the likes of vocal coaches Stellita Lindgren and Astra Kelly; guitarist Johnny Vernazza, best known for his work with The Elvin Bishop Group; classical guitarist Lito Romero and Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila.
Owner Mark Langford himself is an award-winning classical guitarist, who spent time playing guitar with several hard-rock bands, as well as engineering sound for such artists as Warren Zevon and Dwight Yoakam.
“Music is super-important to kids,” said Langford. “These camps give them a chance to do more than just take lessons. We do that too, of course, but this is a total package sort of thing, where a student applies what he is learning to be in a band.”
To that end, the bands give a public performance in the school’s own Hendrix Hall, showcasing what they’ve learned in their week, with a video available to show off their hard work.
“A lot of people don’t realize, but playing in a band, like working with others, is a very different thing than playing solo,” said Langford. “A band is about teamwork. Learning to interact like this is a very valuable lesson for later life, but it’s also just a lot of fun to make music.”
He said having so much to take in during their week in camp means students have to apply themselves.
“We definitely want everyone to have fun, but there are tasks and things that have to be worked on within that time frame. The big payoff is the performance at the end of the week. Seeing the smiles, or the looks of concentration as the case may be, is a reward in itself, almost a bonus to the great music these kids make.”
Langford said he is happy to be helping new generations of performers learn their craft.
“The school is open to everyone, from classical lovers to hard rockers, everyone devoted to the same thing — making their craft or their life’s work better. If we can facilitate that here, than I’m happy with what we’re accomplishing.”
He said he is hopeful for the future of music.
“Sure, the medium that music is delivered on keeps changing, but the root of it all, the player baring his or her soul through song, that remains the same,” he said. “I see kids coming through here with real enthusiasm.”
It’s clear that Langford is thrilled to be able to help students with his school.
“People have questioned in recent years if music has much of a future these days. From what I’m seeing, to paraphrase Pete Townshend, ‘The Kids are Alright,’” he said.
• ROCK AND ROLL SAN DIEGO MUSIC CAMPS: July 14-18 and July 21-25, at ROCK AND ROLL SAN DIEGO, 3360 Sports Arena Blvd., t(619) 255-9594 www.rockandrollsandiego.com/our-in-structors.