We had the good fortune of connecting with Bones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bones, how does your business help the community?
The 1st band I coached was four, 9 year old girls.. I was hesitant to take on the project at first but we quickly became partners in discovering their voices. The band empowered them to share their developing prowess and confidence with their growing fan base and become accomplished songwriters and performers, I witnessed them transform from shy little girls into self-confident, kind young ladies. The twins are recording and performing music in Santa Fe, Faith just graduated from Clemson and will attend the University of Texas at Dallas this fall to pursue her MS in Speech-Language Pathology. Alex intends to pursue a music career and received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, she will graduate next year. Rok Skool Alumni are currently studying performing arts at; Liverpool School of Performing Arts, St Johns College, York, UK, Denver University and CU Boulder. While Coaching Red Bandana, I was approached by a parent whose son was a part of a rock band program in Chicago. He asked her to see if I could coach him and his friends. I did not intend to take this career path and I’ve never advertised for my programs. The impact that these kids have on their peers has inspired scores of young , aspiring musicians to do what it takes to get on the stage and bring it is what sustains Rok Skool . 10 years on, we just held our 7th annual SunFest featuring nine separate bands playing for 5 hours to hundreds of friends and family members! These bands are all seriously good and consistently stun audiences but my goal is not to steer kids towards a musical career. Rather I like to think I teach life skills that will serve them in all aspects of their lives; compromise, collaboration, accountability and confidence.
What should our readers know about your business?
Rok Skool uses a rock band model to teach accountability, instill confidence, develop grit, teach collaboration and encourage compromise. Students are taught the skills necessary to create professional quality performances while developing skills that can be transferred to all life pursuits. Our band members choose all their material and are encouraged to play multiple instruments that might get them out of their comfort zone.
Unlike some franchises, we have found that, by allowing our students to steer their own direction, they are fully invested and motivated to develop their skills on their own time to arrive to sessions with a sense of pride.
Because this is a peer-regulated program, there is no need to hold Musicians accountable as no participant wants to be the one who is unprepared.
Our nonprofit, Articipate, provides scholarships to students who find the cost prohibitive and runs several Marimba bands that serve as a feeder for younger musicians to graduate into Rok Skool.
When Covid hit, we pivoted to online teaching which provided a challenge but also developed new skills in our students to record and share their parts on a collaborative, recording platform.
We produce two showcases per year at our county’s most prestigious venues which are always well attended and never fail to impress!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When you come to visit, We’re going outside!
If you choose a perfect, spring day, we will go skiing in the morning, jump on our raft for a float on the Arkansas, have a late lunch at the Fritz and then jump on our mountain bikes for a ride on the Salida Mountain Trails system.
After dinner at 214 Ferraro’s we can take the kids down to the band cave to play some music and then across the street to the Family Fun Street Arcade to play some old school games or check out the VR system.
If you come at Thanksgiving, we will check out Salida’s Next Last Waltz and if you are here for the memorial day weekend, we will see all the talented youth rock bands at Sunfest.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In 2007, my wife Jill was a teacher in Buena Vista, Colorado. I approached her about trying my newly developed, solo act out on some of her students. She rightly informed me that her kids were not to be used as guinea pigs and I would have to have a serious, educational element for that to happen. For 6 months, she tirelessly helped me develop lesson plans that aligned to state standards in five subjects. We then started offering the Bones’ Solo Ensemble to schools around the state. Red Bandana saw a school performance which is what led to our relationship a couple of years later. My act featured instruments from around the world and I sang in five languages. There was an obvious need for more programs to be offered that exposed students to different cultures. Jill and I started our nonprofit, Articipate to develop an artist roster for schools. Our goal was to expose kids to diverse art forms they might not otherwise experience. We hope to illustrate the importance of the arts in creating community, culture and enriching peoples lives. We offer scholarships so that kids can participate in artistic endeavors regardless of their financial situation. Jill deserves a huge shout-out for helping to pave our path!
Bones’ photo: Tim Brown