Thursday, December 3, 2009

Brooklyn kids rock out

By Meredith Deliso

Forget getting the rush of playing in a band through video games like Rock Band – how about the real thing!

That’s what scores of Brooklyn teenagers, and some adults too, are doing through local programs that get you rocking as a band, complete with concerts at high-profile venues.

Jason Domnarksi was teaching after-school rock band programs in Manhattan when he decided to bring one to his neighborhood. Last summer, he founded the Park Slope Rock School, and currently teaches students ranging from 9- to 13-years-old guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, as well as composition, rhythm, chord progressions, improvisation, instrument technique and stage presence.

“I was amazed that there wasn’t any program in the immediate vicinity for kids to explore rock music both educationally and recreationally”, said Domnarski, a jazz pianist by trade who recently moved to Williamsburg. “It’s the perfect part of town for that – there are so many children, and so many young parents that really embrace alternative forms of education.”

After announcing his school on a Brooklyn blog last year, his first session garnered five students. Today, he has 12 students, and is completing his third semester this fall, with a show at Park Slope’s Southpaw December 12, which will feature two of Domnarski’s bands, as well as some from another local school, Brooklyn Kids Rock, which just launched a 10-week semester this fall for kids ages 8-14.

“This is the program I would have loved to have had around when I was a kid,” says founder Peira, a local musician and music teacher at Music for Aardvarks, PS 321 and Artscetera. “I’m excited to create this opportunity for the next generation.”

Both programs have students playing songs from bands like the Ramones and The Beatles, as well as writing their own tunes, which they’ll perform at the show.

“It’s a very cool recital to have at the end of the year,” says Domnarksi. “It’s not in the church playing ‘Fur Elise.’ This is a lot more fun.”

For those looking to join the fun, the next semester of the Park Slope Rock School and Brooklyn Kids Rock won’t start until mid-January. Until then, you can check out the programs at the December 12 Southpaw show (125 Fifth Ave.). Tickets are $10, with the show starting at noon. For more information on Park Slope Rock School, e-mail For more on Brooklyn Kids Rock, e-mail

A neighborhood over, the Gowanus Music Club has been getting kids rocking since forming a year and a half ago. Currently, over 60 kids from 7- to 17 -years-old are rocking out each week, as well as a few parents to boot.

“We just expanded our program to include an adult rock band,” says executive director Josh Margolis. “They’re totally playing out their rock star fantasy.”

Students come from a range of neighborhoods, including Margolis’ own Boerum Hill, and as far south as Bay Ridge. Though of course, the core come from Gowanus.

“When I began this thing a year and a half ago, I was targeting the neighborhood because it’s so chock full of families,” says Margolis, who oversees a team of nine teachers in the club, as well as runs three five-day sessions over the summer. “Having lived here for over five years at this point I feel like Gowanus Music Club is really community oriented.”

Fittingly, the club will have its end of the semester show at the Gowanus venue the Bell House, on December 20, where kids and parents alike will have the opportunity to rock out after their 12-week jam sessions, during which they’ve learned classic rock from bands like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, as well as Nirvana and the Beastie Boys, and written their own music as well.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation of these kids, from walking in not knowing what’s going to happen, to looking very poised on the stage,” says Margolis. “No more videos – lets’ go out and do it.”

The Gowanus Music Club’s next session will also start mid-January. Check them out beforehand at the Bell House (149 7th St.) on December 20 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 18.


Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP