Playing in the band
Green Bay Rock School offers lessons, stage time for aspiring musicians
By Janelle Fisher
There’s a new business in town offering not only music lessons to budding rock stars, but also and a chance to take the stage in front of live audiences.
Green Bay Rock School may be new to Green Bay, but owner Jason Lipsky opened Appleton Rock School, the program’s first location, more than a decade ago.
“We’ve been down in Appleton for a little over 10 years,” he said. “We actually started as a summer program back in 2011.”
Even before opening Appleton Rock School, Lipsky said he’s been involved in music and teaching much longer.
“I’ve been a guitar teacher myself for, at this point, pretty much my whole life, dating back to the late 90s,” he said. “Doing the rock school was kind of a natural extension of that.”
The rock school was not only a natural next step for Lipsky, but for his students as well.
“I’ve been doing guitar lessons like that for a long time and had a whole lot of students that were getting pretty good,” he said. “I just wanted to find that next kind of outlet for them. Getting them into some kind of real world action was the next step.”
Lipsky said the program started out small but quickly gained traction and grew.
“We started as a summer program and then did it again the following summer,” he said. “And then after that we just kind of kept it going coming out of that summer, and that fall and we started playing some regular gigs.”
When students first come to Rock School, whether in Green Bay or Appleton, the first step is still to build foundational skills.
“Everything kind of gets started with individual lessons,” he said. “Because everybody basically starts as a beginner at some point.”
Once those foundational skills are honed, Lipsky said students have the opportunity to get involved in a band, but don’t have to.
“As the students’ skills develop, if they want to get into a band setting and get out there and play gigs, we have those programs as well,” he said. “Not every one of our students participates in the performance program — it’s not required or anything like that — but we can take anybody from beginner to advanced and put them into a band.”
As those bands form, Lipsky said they have the opportunity to play at a variety of events and venues in the community.
“We play at a lot of the local events and festivals,” he said. “Like we were at Oktoberfest this year, the Electric City Experience in Kaukauna and the Summer Concert Series in Kaukauna. We’re down at Summerfest — this year we had a number of groups down there in Milwaukee. In the past we’ve done things like Packers Family Night. And then places like coffee shops, bowling alleys and all types of family-friendly things.”
Green Bay school opens
An extension of Appleton Rock School, Green Bay Rock School recently opened at 1764 Main St. in Green Bay.
The opening of a second location, Lipsky said, was not necessarily part of the plan, but it was too good of an opportunity to ignore.
“An opportunity presented itself and we thought ‘Why not?’” he said. “It was just sort of a situation we couldn’t pass up. I had some excellent teachers ready to come on board for the place as well, and it was, again, kind of a natural next step.”
Lipsky said lessons at the Green Bay location are already underway and that the offerings will continue to expand as things fall into place.
“We’ve got guitar lessons going and drum lessons are going to be starting real soon — and voice lessons as well,” he said. “And piano lessons, as soon as that piano shows up. We’ve got everything ordered, but when it’ll show up is sort of up in the air.”
As Green Bay Rock School gets up and running, Lipsky says he’s hoping it will gain traction in the area as well, just like the Appleton location did.
“Even though we’ve been around for 10 years in Appleton, we’re new on the block in Green Bay,” he said.