School of Rock plans to open
Steve Peterson does not appear to be a loud, sloppy, rambunctious man. In fact, he seems rather calm. But he shares one important characteristic with Dewey Finn, the main character portrayed by Jack Black in the 2003 movie titled “School of Rock.” Both have an unquenchable passion for rock ’n’ roll music.
Peterson is hard at work preparing to open School of Rock Scripps Ranch at 12090 Scripps Summit Drive, the former location of Sanctuary Lounge.
Unlike the movie, School of Rock is a very real company – an international franchise – with a program, classes and teachers to help guide aspiring rock ’n’ rollers through lessons in rock music.
“It started in 1998. It actually came out before the movie,” Peterson said. “There are schools all over the world. It’s very popular in Australia, South America, Europe.”
Peterson said he began listening to rock ’n’ roll when he was very young. He has played bass and guitar in several rock bands. The music has been a major influence throughout his life.
“It’s so fun. There is so much energy and so much passion in rock ’n’ roll. There is so much story,” he explained. “It’s part of our culture. It’s part of what defines our lifetime in so many ways. You hear a song you haven’t heard in 20 years and it makes you feel great.”
Opening the local School of Rock franchise will be Peterson’s first go at such a venture.
“I’ve been unwittingly preparing for this my whole life, honestly,” he said. “I came from the high-tech world. I worked for Intel and Qualcomm, but I’ve always somehow figured out a way to bring music into my work through different programs that I did with the big companies I worked for before. But now I get to do music full-time.”
Peterson said Point Loma and Encinitas already have franchises. His daughter, Melanie, is already taking classes at one of them. He chose to open his School of Rock in Scripps Ranch for a couple of reasons.
“This is a great community. … This area needed one,” he said. “This is what I want to do with the next 20 years of my life. I want to grow a community of young musicians who can play and have fun with rock ’n’ roll. In a lot of ways, it’s extending a legacy of the music that I grew up loving.”
Peterson is hoping to open his school in December or January, but much remains to be done, including securing the business permits and licenses.
When School of Rock Scripps Ranch does open, it will offer classes for everyone. Children can start as young as age 4, but the core programs start at age 7 and run through age 17. There will be a program for adults as well.
Experience is not necessary. One of the programs – Rock 101 – is for beginners.
“We get them up to speed and once they graduate from Rock 101, we put them into a program called the Performance Program,” Peterson said.
Students in the Performance Program will perform in a seasonal show. For example, Melanie Peterson recently performed in a seasonal show featuring music by Jack White of the White Stripes. She prepared for three months and learned six songs. She spent each week learning music and practicing the songs. By the time the show came up, she had all the music down, Peterson said.
Melanie has signed up for another show in the Performance Program. This one is themed “One Hit Wonders,” and she will have four months to prepare. This time she will get to play guitar, bass and might sing, Peterson said.
School of Rock Scripps Ranch will offer lessons in guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. Students will have the opportunity to occasionally perform at established venues in San Diego where rock fans regularly go to hear live rock ’n’ roll.
While Peterson is an experienced rock musician, he plans to hire other professionals to teach his students. He will have his hands full coordinating the operation.
Meanwhile, Melanie thinks she would like to pursue a career in rock. Her father hopes that she will one day teach students at his School of Rock in Scripps Ranch.