PARKLAND, FL- When Burny Pelsmajer was organizing his 2020 schedule for School of Rock Coral Springs, he never knew the challenges they would face. The career musician from Cleveland, Ohio, had grown his School of Rock operation from one location in South Florida to four, and life was clicking along well for the music school.
Then March and the pandemic landed, and everything changed. One of School of Rock's hallmark components, getting musicians of all backgrounds together to play music, was no longer possible to do in person. So Burny had to get creative.
"Business stopped immediately when the pandemic landed, and overall we've been down by about 40%," Pelsmajer says.
The in-person jam sessions and instructional times simply weren't possible as the world was figuring out how to handle the Coronavirus. Pelsmajer turned all of School of Rock's classes into virtual meetings, which work just fine for individual training. For the large group settings, it was a real challenge.
"Our program is based around large groups playing shows at bars, which has made the coronavirus season particularly challenging," adds Pelsmajer.
And yet, as his four locations of School of Rock (Davie, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Coral Springs) have weathered the storm, Burny Pelsmajer already is on the comeback trail. School of Rock's virtual classes have increased significantly, and opportunities to play in person while socially distanced from each other continue to grow while showcasing another of School of Rock's unique traits; the instructors are musicians first that learn to teach, instead of the opposite.
"We only hire musicians," says Pelsmajer. "We flip the script on how to teach music. We show people how to make music fun, taught by real musicians. Once they see how fun it can be, then we circle back and teach the music education side. People are far more enthusiastic about the education when they are already having fun."
School of Rock's classes are geared towards everyone, and not just for kids and students. They also have a program for adults called grad school.
"You'd be surprised how many adults just want to relax, play with some other musicians, and have fun. Grad school is for all levels," he adds. "We choose specific music to fit specific skill sets. We get them excited and playing together."
School of Rock is getting back on track with its classes. They are currently being held with health guidelines in place. And as performance locations open up, they look forward to being able to perform in public again.
Pelsmajer summarizes it well, saying "we're weathering the storm and enjoying new teaching opportunities."
For more information, please visit the Coral Springs School of Rock web page.
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