Paradise resident Teddi Tarnoff didn’t grow up jamming on the bass or singing heavy rock, but you wouldn’t know the difference listening to her perform today.
Although trained in classical music, Tarnoff joined the original School of Rock Philadelphia to learn how to play the guitar at 14. She said the school allowed her to expand her horizons and find her music niche.
Last year, she agreed to run the School of Rock Las Vegas West, 9340 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 117, to help give other students the same opportunity.
“It’s a real music school,” Tarnoff said. “We’re teaching them songs, and they’re learning how to play in a band, but they’re getting as close to a real rock experience as humanly possible.”
The school offers music lessons and a chance to perform live at local venues for children 7 to 18. The Little Wing program, which was initiated in early March, teaches children 4 to 6 the basics of music theory and rhythm.
“Students come weekly for group lessons and private lessons, depending on their proficiency level,” Tarnoff said. “When they’re ready, they can (enter) into the performance program where they’re cast into bands and shows.”
Once in the performance program, the children are placed into bands of four or five members. Venue performances are held three times a year and contain about two hours of material.
“They’re on a real rock stage in front of audiences consisting of family, friends and people who happen to just check out the venue,” Tarnoff said. “This season, the kids will perform an arena rock show, so like Journey, Foreigner, Styx and Heart. We will also have a Rolling Stones show, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ and ’80s prom music.”
According to Tarnoff, the children mostly get to decide what show they will perform in; however, the instructors also guide the children to try new styles and genres.
“We really try to challenge them and expand the music that they’re familiar with,” Tarnoff said. “We’re not only teaching them how to play, but we’re teaching them about music and making sure they get a wide berth of styles and sounds to learn from and appreciate.”
Students who want a bigger challenge can audition for the school’s nationwide AllStars program that gives them the opportunity to tour around the country.
“There are six different groups that go out on the road and play at different festivals like Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza,” Tarnoff said. “They get put on a chartered bus driving from state to state dealing with the trials and tribulations of being on the road. They get the the whole experience.”
Spring Valley resident Natasha Romero-Salas, 15, has loved music since she can remember. She started singing at 4, playing the keyboard at 7 and strumming on the guitar at about 12.
“I used to do a School of Rock type thing before, but it wasn’t as structured,” Romero-Salas said. “Here, I attend lessons Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. I’ve learned things like what it’s like playing in a group and more about how the (amplifiers) work.”
Romero-Salas, who attends Bishop Gorman High School, 5959 S. Hualapai Way, has performed at the South Point, the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Rain Nightclub at the Palms and the Hard Rock Live on the Strip.
“It’s really fun to perform,” Romero-Salas said. “Everything is really organized, and I’ve liked all the venues we’ve performed at.”
According to guitar instructor Erik Carlsson, the school serves as a safe environment for children to be themselves.
“They check their baggage at the door and put their social hierarchy on hold,” Carlsson said. “They make friendships that they may not feel comfortable making outside of the (music) school. They let it all go so they can be who they want to be.”
School of Rock Las Vegas West is open from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The performance program costs between $200 and $300 a month and includes one private and one group lesson each week. Lessons for adults also are available.
For more information, visit lasvegaswest.schoolofrock.com or call 702-778-9382.
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.