By Jill Draper
The most popular summer camp at a new business in Leawood is Rock Band. Kids experiment with various musical instruments, choose one, learn to join in on a song, and by the week’s end, perform that song on stage before family and friends. They also play musical-inspired games, pick a band name and paint a T-shirt.
Other summer camps include Glee Club for those who mainly like to sing, Beat-Making, DJ Camp and for toddlers, Rock City, where preschoolers explore basic concepts like rhythm and rhyme.
“Kids don’t get exposure soon enough to music,” says Angela Hill, who opened a franchise called Bach to Rock last June in a strip shopping center just south of Price Chopper at 3630 W. 135th Street. Hill owns the business with her husband Dave and serves as site director.
The main goal is to have fun, says Hill, who emphasizes, “It’s at the core of teaching our students.” But learning music has other benefits as well, she adds. It offers a balance or alternative to sports, helps kids decide what instrument they’d like to play in their school band and provides confidence as they go through life, especially the experience of performing.
Right now some 125 children and 10 adults are enrolled in group and private lessons, toddler sessions and mommy-and-me mornings. Bach to Rock also hosts birthday parties, corporate parties and soon, weekly summer camps.
The first Bach to Rock-type summer camp was begun by a middle school music teacher in Maryland in 2002, and the first franchise was sold in 2012. Unlike their competitor, School of Rock, their business model focuses on a wider variety of music, from classical to Top 40, hip-hop, blues, country, gospel, jazz, a cappella, bluegrass, electronica and choral music, says their website.
According to Hill, “We have the rights to over 500 songs, including titles by Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga and classics, of course. We want to get students playing the music they want to play, and we will get them on a song by lesson 3.”
Hill hopes to double or even triple enrollment in the future. Some of her students are from St. Thomas More School in south KC and she plans to do more community outreach, such as setting up musical instrument “petting zoos” at school carnivals, church festivals, farmers markets and community events. Next year she’d like to organize a battle of the bands on family night at Rock & Brews in Overland Park so that students get a chance to perform in public. And she’d love to see a granny band take shape at Bach to Rock. One of her students is 75 years old.
Hill’s husband has a musical background; he worked in radio for 30 years, including 101 The Fox in Kansas City. Her background is in business operations and project management. The couple have two children, 8 and almost 12, who attend school in Overland Park and spend some of their time after school singing and learning music.
Hill wants to grow the business, but she also has a more specific dream: One night a musician will walk across the stage to accept a Grammy award, face the camera, and thank the Bach to Rock franchise in Leawood for a pivotal childhood experience.
Until then, the Hills and their 13 part-time teachers are happy to entertain and educate aspiring musicians of any age in the stage room—or the piano room, drum room, private lesson room, mix room or recording studio—at their business. For more, see bachtorock.com/leawood or call 913-745-7823.