Musical seeds grow at Funkin’ Rock School

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 6, 2012

If someone plays or sings music well, it’s often said he or she has a “gift.” But the real gift is being able to make a living doing it. I determined as a teenager I wanted to do just that and teaching music lessons in the various things I could play — guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals, and drums — was the start down that road.

Teaching has always been an essential element in my career path and, after moving away from traditional lessons in my 20s, I still gave recording trainings in New York and Los Angeles, where I quickly discovered being the go-to guy for technical answers opened a lot of doors for me with established music industry figures. I set up studios for P. Diddy, helped Tommy Shaw burn CDs when his system was down, gave software assistance in the studio to the engineer behind Metallica’s hits and taught Paul McCartney’s guitar player a thing or two about Pro Tools. The great majority of these tech connections eventually led to session work as a musician or engineer.

Being able to help someone who is struggling to overcome an obstacle has always been a source of soul-satisfaction for me. Planting relationship seeds while helping someone in need is very powerful and excellent karma.

That motivation inspired me last year to start Dave Carlock’s Funkin’-Rock School (FRS). That, and a desire to modify traditional music education by letting students pick their own lesson material, straight from their playlists. Along the way, I make sure to sneak in important skills along the way. At the FRS, I take a classical music approach toward performing pop and rock music. Students learn to play the songs authentically, as one would with Mozart or Bach.

In a given week, I work with everyone from doll-faced junior high chanteuses with “American Idol” dreams, kids who don’t seem to fit in unless they play music, secret defectors from high school sports cliques, ADHD-ridden potential-wunderkinds, the painfully shy hoping to assert themselves and even adults taking on their lifelong goal to learn this instrument or that. Those are the things I’m there to help with, with music itself being the common language of everyone’s goals. Teaching and performing music is planting seeds of inspiration and confidence through the medium of music.

All of this is forefront in my mind as it’s harvest time for the students — we’re preparing for the FRS Spring Concert on May 25 in Benton Harbor. Now the fun part begins: We get the students out of playing in their bedrooms and basements and begin to apply all the moves and licks they entertained themselves with  via mirror and hairbrush microphone or with cranked up guitar.

At the FRS, we perform true concert style with full concert PA, lights, monitors and staging. I also invite guest artists to contribute as instrumentalists or vocalists, presenting each song as authentically as we can for our audiences. This time, we feature Adam Jones, a local pro drummer who is inspiring the students with his always rock-solid groove.

I must admit it’s kinda funny watching students flinch in rehearsals when the snare drum is hit. By the time our show is over, they’ll also understand that loud but well-mixed sound positively affects our bodies, not just our ears. You can’t get that kind of experience with mom and dad or your neighbor tapping the broom handle on the floor above your home rehearsal space.

Dave Carlock is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment business whose work as a recording engineer and producer, touring musician, and songwriter made him Googleable. His continuing work as an Independent Content Creator of Sound and Image has earned him a Grammy Award certificate, two Platinum Record Awards, and a Paragon Award in advertising. Currently, he brings national and international artists to make records and music videos at his production studio in the Benton Harbor Arts District.