By Janelle Fisher
There’s a new act in town that offers not only music lessons to budding rock stars, but also the chance to take the stage in front of live audiences.
Green Bay Rock School may be new to Green Bay, but owner Jason Lipsky opened Appleton Rock School, the program’s first location, more than a decade ago.
“We’ve been at Appleton for just over 10 years,” he said. “We actually started as a summer program in 2011.”
Even before Appleton Rock School opened, Lipsky said he had been involved in music and teaching for much longer.
“I’ve been a guitar teacher, at this point, pretty much my whole life, dating back to the late ’90s,” he said. “Attending School of Rock was kind of a natural extension of that.”
School of Rock wasn’t just a natural next step for Lipsky, but for his students as well.
“I’ve been taking guitar lessons like this for a long time and I’ve had a lot of students who have gone on to be good,” he said. “I just wanted to find the next kind of outlet for them. The next step was to get them involved in some kind of real-life business.”
Lipsky said the program started small but quickly gained traction and grew.
“We started as a summer program and then we did it again the following summer,” he said. “And then we just kind of carried on going out that summer, and that fall we started playing some regular gigs.”
When students first come to School of Rock, whether in Green Bay or Appleton, the first step is still building foundational skills.
“It all starts with individual lessons,” he said. “Because everyone basically starts out as a beginner at some point.”
Once those basic skills are honed, Lipsky said students have the opportunity to get involved in a band, but they don’t have to.
“As students’ skills develop,” he said, “if they want to get into a band setup and go out and play gigs, we have those programs, too.” “Not every one of our students gets into the performance program—it’s not required or anything like that—but we can take anyone from beginners to advanced and put them in a band.”
When these bands form, Lipsky said they have the opportunity to play at a variety of events and venues in the community.
“We play at a lot of local events and festivals,” he said. “We’ve also been to Oktoberfest this year, the Electricity City Experience in Cocoona and the Summer Concert Series in Cocoona. We’re at Summerfest – this year we had a number of groups there in Milwaukee. In the past we’ve done things like Packers Family Night. Then places like coffee shops and bowling alleys. And all kinds of family-friendly stuff.”
Green Bay School opening
An extension of Appleton Rock School, Green Bay Rock School recently opened at 1764 Main Street in Green Bay.
Opening a second location wasn’t necessarily part of the plan, Lipsky said, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
He said, “A chance arose and we thought, ‘Why not? “It was just a situation we couldn’t miss. I had some excellent teachers ready to come on board as well, and that was, again, a natural next step.”
Lessons at the Green Bay location are already underway, Lipsky said, and the offerings will continue to expand as things get going.
“We have guitar lessons and drum lessons starting real soon – and vocal lessons too,” he said. “And piano lessons, as soon as that piano shows up. We’ve had everything arranged, but when it does show up it will be kind of up in the air.”
With the Green Bay Rock school going live, Lipsky says he hopes it will gain traction in the area as well, just as the Appleton site has.
“Although we’ve been around for 10 years in Appleton, we’re new to the Green Bay area,” he said.