'We Teach You Something Awesome': School of Rock Mokena Inspires Kids to Rock

Need plans for this Thursday evening? Stop by the Irwin Center in Homewood from 7 to 9 p.m. to hear the school's students play for free.

The summer is winding down, and there's not much time left to enjoy the warm weather. If you like free music—and who doesn't—then let the School of Rock Mokena help you make the most of your final days before the cool down comes.

For no charge, School of Rock Mokena will perform Thursday evening at Irwin Center in Homewood-Flossmoor from 7 to 9 p.m. after the completion of a battle of the bands competition. The school advises residents to bring a blanket and picnic meal.

Why Should You Come Out Thursday Night? "It’s a way to experience something unique," said general manager Joey Kar, comparing the event to watching America's Got Talent. "You’re going to see 10- to 14-year-old kids shredding Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, Crazy Train … in ways that you don’t even see bands at local venues on Friday nights playing. You’re going to be shocked."

Learning in a Safe Environment: Rock 'n' roll has stereotypically been mentioned in the same sentence as alcohol, drugs, fighting, etc. School of Rock Mokena wants to show the 7- to 18-year-old children they teach that is not the only way to learn.

"When you’re here, you’re going to get all of the edginess of rock, but in a safe bubble," Kar said. "It’s a clean environment, so moms can feel safe when they drop their little ones."

Who Teaches the Children? Kar, a California native, and the eight other instructors have been teaching children how to play instruments—such as the guitar, drums, base and keyboard—at School of Rock Mokena since they opened up in February 2011. Kar and three other instructors are a part of a band called Second Nature.

"Being in a band that has a high bar for music, we put that in these kids and instill these kids with professionalism and high bar quality," said Kar that has played with Second Nature at the House of Blues previously and will be playing at Hollywood Casino in Joliet this weekend.

What Makes School of Rock Mokena Special? "The performance aspect," said Kar of what he referred to as his unspoken motivation. "When you go take lessons somewhere, you’re going to learn how to play something simple and easy. But then you’re going to go home and have to choose between (video games) and your guitar. Here, when we teach it to you, you don’t really have a choice because on that Friday night, you’re going to have a band rehearsal."

School of Rock Mokena is also not like other musical institutions, because they allow children to put their practice into action. "It’s not like we teach you something awesome, and then say, 'Go home and play it for your mom'," Kar said. "We teach you something awesome, and you get to go play it in front of a crowd of over 300 people on a real stage in a real environment."

Are you interested in joining School of Rock Mokena?

Wide Range of Skills: "We’ve got kids that come here and know nothing," Kar said. "And then within three to four months, they’re playing songs. We’ve got some kids that are super shredders and the meat pack bone of the band. But if a kid comes in here and only knows how to play 'Mary Had a Little Lamb,' we’re going to show you three chords, and even though you’re not playing crazy Led Zeppelin riffs, you’re still playing the root notes of the song."

Even though some of the older children may be playing at a higher level, beginners can still be a part of the band by playing the basic notes from songs along with everyone else at shows. "You don’t have to be the backbone of the band to be part of the band," Kar said.

Shows in the Future: Once every three months, Mokena School of Rock puts on a themed performance. On Sept. 22, they're going to play a best of the '80s rock and "guitar gods" show.

Does your son or daughter play an instrument? What worked best for them when they were learning to jam? Tell us in the comments.


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