Blogs » On Another Note » Score One For Aging Rockers


I had a little free time this weekend, so I decided to watch a little television. (No joke either you should see the size of the second TV in the house.) I was flipping channels, and stopped on a reality TV show.

I won’t get too much into my feelings on reality TV, my dear reader. That’s for another time and another blog altogether. Let’s just say that I miss the days of the sitcoms and hour-long dramas, which thankfully seem to be coming our way again in fall.

I did find one that kept me interested for half an hour though. It was called “Gene Simmons’ Rock School” and the premise is pretty much self-explanatory if you have ever seen the movie “School Of Rock”. Gene, who is best known as the frontman for the band KISS, comes to an uppity private school to teach a music class that is full of classically trained student musicians (piano, violin, choir, etc.). He storms in the classroom and announces that the class is going to start a rock band.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of reality TV, the plot pretty much stops there, and the unscripted world of reality TV begins with all it’s trials and tribulations. Gene intimidates the kids, who are so sheltered they don’t realize how famous he really is. Most confess to not liking him very much after the first lesson. The parents and administrators don’t seem to want him around, and think he is a bad influence on the kids (which is strange, because SOMEONE had to invite him to this school for the show).

All talk of authority and administration aside, let me just say that if Gene Simmons came to my middle school music class and announced he was going to teach me how to rock, I wouldn’t have spent so much time faking I was sick. But then again, he would just be preaching to the choir. These kids need Gene Simmons to teach them some lessons they certainly can’t get in private school, and you have to search for on your own in public school, and that’s how to be rockin’ in the first place.

Gene teaches them some interesting things in episode 1. He shows them how to “be cool” when they enter a room. He let’s them decorate the classroom however they wish. He let’s them pick their own stage name. (“You think ‘The Edge’ was born with that name?” he asks the class.) He gives them personal CD players and CDs to take home and listen to as homework. He tells them that you don’t even need to really know how to play an instrument to be a rocker, it’s all in the feeling.

Perhaps the most interesting thing he does in the show, is pick the class new lead singer for the band. The whole class thinks he is going to pick the one in the choir who can sing perfectly, but instead he chooses the class clown, Josh. No one seems to like Josh very much, he is an outcast, he cuts up in class, he speaks “elvish” and can’t really sing at all. But he has presence. He can stand on stage and glare at the audience, Gene sees that immediately and casts Josh as the new lead singer, saying that just about all great rock singers were dorks when they were in school. The effect is immediate on Josh (who gives himself the stage name “Emperor”) we can see him in his room where a camera is set up as he dances around with loud music blaring in the room. He’s in the band he says, now people will want to talk to him and maybe sit with him at lunch…

It may not seem like much to some people. There are some who would like to cut music, art, and physical education classes in the curriculum and focus on standardized testing so that we look good as a state among the rest of the U.S. We seem to forget to think about how our children turn out. I am one of those people who believe that if you give a kid a little time to play, he or she is going to perform better for you when it comes time to learn. But instead, we blame the downfall of youth on the way they dress, and the sign of the times instead of the teachers who should be teaching life lessons as well as the three R’s, and the home life these kids have. How many rap or rock stars have you heard came from nothing, and had only music to cling to as they tried to make a better life for themselves?

I’m not saying Gene is a great music teacher… Not by a long shot. There is no way he can teach these kids what their snobbish parents call “music”. But he can show them some interesting things. By being “cool” and playing in a band. He can teach them to work as a team and to exhibit self confidence. All you have to do is look at young Josh here for proof. That’s something I wish any teacher would have taught me.