The Liner Notes

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Rock School documentary good for a laugh

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Rock School

A couple weeks ago a DVD buried in my Netflix queue from years back turned up in my mailbox.

The DVD in the little red sleeve, which I had clearly forgotten about since I arbitrarily placed it in my queue, was Rock School, a documentary filmed in 1995 about a group of kids in taking music lessons from a guy named Paul Green in Philadelphia.

Essentially picture the Jack Black film School of Rock, and you have the premise for this documentary.  Except Green, who teaches kids from ages nine to 17, is a huge Frank Zappa fan and teaches his students how to play Zappa’s songs by yelling at them.

It’s hard to tell how much of Green’s antics are for the cameras and how much of it is him just being himself, but majority of the film is him yelling at and chastising his students for not practicing and basically being bad musicians.

Green’s students are an eclectic mix of miscreants who want to grow up to be legitimate rock stars. The students are really the redeeming aspect of what would otherwise be a pretty dreary hour and a half.

Some of the kids, like 8-year-old guitar prodigy C.J. Tyoniak who is simply amazing on the guitar, are solid musicians who shine.

The film culminates with the kids going to Germany for Zapanale, a Zappa cover band festival, where they perform.

The best quote of the documentary:

Green: Don’t look at your fingers! Do you want to know why? Because girl guitar players look at their fingers. Do you want to be a girl guitar player? 
Tywoniak: No. 
Green: Do you want to be in The Bangles? 
Tywoniak: No. 

While I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to rent this one, I would say it’s worth throwing at the bottom of the Netflix queue for some entertainment on a random winter’s eve.

Watch the trailer here.


Written by David Young

March 10, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Music

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