Back in the day, when business owner Michael Toerpe grew up, kids had to buy a magazine to learn a few guitar cords.
Classic magazines like Guitar World featured rockstars on the cover, but the magazine’s gold was the tablature, which showed students where to place their fingers on guitar strings to create music instead of note reading.
“We didn't have YouTube either back in the day either,” Toerpe said.
Now kids have something more remarkable than a magazine with an idol on the cover. Now the kids have rock practice.
“The stereotypical kid who comes in looking at the floor, can't give you eye contact, doesn't talk to anybody,” he said. “Parents have to force him to do something and then three months later, they're onstage rocking. It happens all the time!”
Disaffected by traditional sports or afterschool activities, more students are turning to the School of Rock to find comradery and learn the value of hard work. Toerpe said his Litchfield Park/Goodyear School of Rock has a grand opening event in May, but he already has strong open numbers.
“After our third week, we were already up to 75 students,” he said. “You're supposed to have 33 by the end of month one, and we have almost 80 by the end of month one.”
Toerpe’s School of Rock is the only one in the West Valley and will be in demand.
“When I first started doing this, people were driving their kids to Scottsdale from Buckeye,” he said. “And now they stop driving all the way there and come to us. People will drive for this product.
Younger students, or rookies, get to play everything: bass, drums, keys, vocals, every week. Toerpe said students get to concentrate on one instrument when they get older, but if they’re inclined to find a better fit, they’ll accommodate that student.
“We want you there because you want to be there, let's help you find your niche,” he said.
Toerpe previously ran a thriving entertainment and music business in Chicago. Before that, he dropped out of college as a music major to travel in a band for five years. He said it was a life-defining experience and didn’t regret it.
“I ended up leaving my junior year because school was kind of getting in the way of me being able to travel with bands, go out and get paying gigs, which is what my goal was anyways, so I ended up leaving and never looked back,” he said.
Now Toerpe hopes to use his experience to help students find that life-defining experience.
For information, parents can visit the school at 5110 North Dysart Road in Litchfield Park, visit the website or call Toerpe at 602-834-ROCK.