A wave is pushing up the East Coast. It comes in the form of the quickly expanding, all-ages private music school, Bach to Rock, where students learn everything from classical to Taylor Swift. The first Pennsylvania franchise opens in early June in Wayne’s Devon Square Shopping Center, with enrollment starting this month. For that, we can all thank Kennett Square’s Ellen Good and Dave Leonard, both entrepreneurs and music lovers. Here’s what to expect.
MLT: What inspired you and your husband to open a Bach to Rock school?
EG: Dave and I have always wanted to find a business that we could both enjoy doing together. When we saw our grandkids at recitals, it inspired us to look for a business along the lines of Bach to Rock.
MLT: What career experience do you bring to the table?
EG: Dave and I have both previously owned our own businesses. I played piano as a kid, string bass through high school, and now the harp. Dave played trumpet in middle and high school, taught himself to play piano in college, and has taken acoustic guitar lessons off-and-on over the years. He continues to play the guitar on an almost daily basis. My bachelor’s degree is in family and child development, with a master’s in social work. Dave has a master’s degree in teaching from Brown University, on top of his MBA from Duquesne University.
MLT: What does your research tell you about kids and music today?
EG: The National Association of Music Merchants says that interest in music is at an all-time high, especially with the popularity of shows like American Idol, The Voice and Glee. With music and arts programs continuing to be cut because of diminishing school budgets, Bach to Rock helps to meet the increased need for high-quality music education. In addition, research has revealed that 85 percent of Americans who don’t play a musical instrument wish they did.
MLT: How adult-friendly is B2R?
EG: We expect some parents will be inspired by their children, connect with a buried desire to learn how to play a particular instrument, and decide to take a lesson themselves while their kids are taking their lessons. We also expect grandparents will be inspired to return to an instrument they previously played or to take up a new one.
MLT: What’s the difference between B2R and other music schools?
EG: We believe students learn best when playing the music they love most. Our progressive curriculum is constantly evolving to keep students motivated and engaged. Students also can choose from a large variety of instruments—everything from drums, guitar, piano and voice, to cello, trumpet, violin, clarinet and flute. We create custom music arrangements based on students’ instruments of choice and skill levels, so ensembles and rock bands can easily be formed.
MLT: Will the school have its own stage?
EG: We’ll have a small performance room at our location. As our needs grow, we’ll also be using other venues. We also hope to provide student bands at local events. Kids get very excited about performing in public.
MLT: How many instruments have you bought for the school?
EG: A substantial number will be ordered over the next couple of months. We’ll provide a variety of instruments for kids to try, so they don’t have to purchase their own until they’ve settled on a particular one.
MLT: How is your team of teaching musicians coming along?
EG: We expect to begin interviewing and hiring our teachers in May. We hope to start construction in March or April, and our build-out will take eight to 10 weeks. This is a music school unlike any we’ve seen before. There will be small lesson rooms, band rehearsal rooms, a room for early childhood education programs, a performance room, as well as a recording studio and control room. The décor will be bright and upbeat—a place children and adults alike will enjoy.
MLT: What’s been the biggest challenge to opening a music school?
EG: I think Dave and I have both been surprised by all the new learning required to design the school from an acoustical perspective. Bach to Rock schools put a lot of effort into sound abatement to make the facility a pleasant place for our students and teachers. And, of course, we don’t want to cause any noise problems for the tenant next door.