Rock School (15)

Directed by Don Argott
Screening at FACT from October 7th - 13th 2005

Reviewed by Kenn Taylor

Anyone who witnessed Jack Black’s ‘School of Rock’ a couple of years ago now has the opportunity to see a real rock and roll education in action.

This documentary centres on the Paul Green School of Rock Music - an after-school educational programme founded in Philadelphia USA by former musician Paul Green to teach 9-17 year olds not just how to play, but how to rock.

Inspired to set up the school after helping some local kids improve their band in 1998, Paul now has 120 pupils ranging from the youngest who give their own unique interpretation of Black Sabbath to the advanced older pupils who play Frank Zappa. The kids range from clinically depressed intellectual Will to Madi - a Quaker girl who was previously in her own Amish rap group. The talent of some of the kids is astounding and if you don’t hear something from twelve-year-old guitar-genius C.J Tywoniak at some point in the future something will have gone very wrong.

We follow their progress from the tension of lessons - where Paul gets the kids to practice using his own unique but successful teaching methods - to their finale performances. The Zappa show is so astounding that even a former musician in Zappa’s group bows down to them on stage when they play at the Zappanale - a festival in Germany dedicated entirely to the music of Frank Zappa).

At some points you are left wondering if he puts too much pressure on the kids in his striving for excellence. But he believes the end result is worth and the talent of the kids is what you get “when you strip away the fear and the laziness”.

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