WALLINGFORD — Music fans of all ages came out Saturday to celebrate opening day of the Rock House School of Music.
Owners John and Cathy McCarthy purchased the house-turned-office building at 393 Center St. in April, converting the former offices into multi-purpose studios for private music lessons.
They plan to maintain the school’s original West Haven location, which John McCarthy started in his parents’ house while still in high school.
The school offers lessons in guitar, piano, singing/voice, drums, bass guitar, violin, ukulele, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and flute. They offer Little Rockers classes for children ages 4 to 7, after-school music programs and rock star birthday parties.Musical creativity
All 15 instructors are performing musicians certified by the school to teach, McCarthy said.
Inside, the school is primed to foster musical creativity. The rooms are painted in a variety of colors, and the foyer features a mural of famous rockers by artist Paul Popolizio.
“Through these doors, your musical journey begins,” reads a sign that hangs over the front door.
Special guests who attended Saturday included Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., who participated in a ribbon cutting.
“We’ve got talented people up here, ready to teach music,” said Dickinson, a musician himself. “I think we all agree you need harmony and you need a good beat to get through life, and we’re going to learn it here.”
"Yes we are,” McCarthy said.Outdoor rock show
Several musicians played an outdoor concert Saturday in the building’s parking lot on Fair Street, including school instructors and students.
Carmine Appice, a rock drummer who also wrote a popular instructional book on drumming, attended to show his support for music education.
Appice is the original drummer for 1960s psychedelic band Vanilla Fudge, and has since collaborated with several rock musicians, notably Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, Paul Stanley and Ozzy Osbourne.
Appice’s book, “Realistic Rock Drum Method,” has been revised over the years and has incorporated video.
He met McCarthy at a radio station toy drive in December, and they discussed creating a drum curriculum for the school based on the method in Appice’s series of books.
He brought a New Jersey-based band that he manages, Kodiak, to play Saturday.
The band is a testament to starting music instruction at a young age. The members of Kodiak, which sounds like the Strokes doing Van Halen, range from 17 to 21.
Drummer Pete Biggiani, 21, won a contest through “Modern Drummer" 10 years ago when Appice was looking for a young drummer to appear in his instructional DVD for kids.
When Appice met Biggiani’s family, he was introduced to his then-6-year-old brother, Chris, who played guitar.
“Through the years, they’ve been coming to my gigs,” Appice said. “I’ve been helping them, and last year they gave me some demos of this band.”
The Biggiani brothers, along with singer Eric Dalton, 21, and bass player TJ Haefner, 20, formed Kodiak last August.
Appice became their producer, rearranging and remixing the band’s songs, and took over managing the band last September.
Haeffner said no matter what size the crowd is, the band always plays “like it’s Madison Square Garden.”
“You don’t know who might be watching,” he said.