School of Rock Franchise Opens Katy Outpost

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Photos courtesy of Mark Bowerman/School of Rock Katy
It was hard not to use a famous Who song as our headline here. But Katy, the Houston exurb known for Katy High's football dominance, now has a different kind of after-school practice for its youth.

For the past few weeks, about 20 area Katy-area kids between ages seven and 18 have enrolled in School of Rock, the music program that provides both individual and group lessons, and allows the students to perform a concert at the end of the program. According to their instruments, they are cast into different lineups with fellow students rather than grouped into "bands," says Katy franchise owner Mark Bowerman. The more advanced students are working on a "British Invasion" program.

The Katy location is the first School of Rock franchise to open in the Houston area, joining more than 80 locations in 26 states; a Clear Lake location is supposed to open soon. Bowerman says the community reaction has been enthusiastic.

"The feedback that I get from parents, they're encouraged because their kids are excited about it," he says. "In some cases, some kids just don't get excited about too much. It's good to hear those parents say, 'hey listen, my kid loves to come here and is getting a real big kick out of it.'"

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A former software engineer, Bowerman discovered the program when he was in a Guitar Center in Austin and inquired about getting drum lessons for his twin ten-year-old sons. The clerk referred him to the School of Rock Austin location. One somewhat unusual career change later, he says the program is becoming a way for parents and kids to discover similar tastes. (Parents, meanwhile probably feel another ring of age growing around them.)

"That's become a big part of it," he says. "One little girl was only eight, a vocalist in our beginner program, and she had been listening to more of these songs that we're doing, like White Stripes and Eels and stuff. She told her mom, 'Yeah mom, I really like listening to your music.' That is awesome."

To relate to the students, Bowerman says he'll use American Idol as a reference point to teach students about the Aerosmith singer's real job. But kids who come in wanting to sing Katy Perry get redirected quickly.

"First of all, I think it's great, because it at least shows their interest in music," Bowerman says. "We don't do that kind of genre of music, but with those kinds of kinds it's not that difficult to get them interested. You can always find some hook for that."

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