By Cary Shuman
The School of Rock opened in the spring of 2015 with Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, other city officials, and LACC members welcoming the new concept in music and rock ‘n’ roll instruction to the city.
Bill Galatis, 37, owner of the Lynn school and the School of Rock in Watertown, and his cousin, Dave Galatis, 28, general manager, have overseen the school’s growth and surge in popularity since that time. Bill has owned the Watertown school since 2012.
“At that time the Watertown school was corporately owned and I was the music director/general manager,” recalled Bill. “In 2012, my father and I put a deal together and we purchased the school. There are 180 Schools of Rock in the U.S.A. and around the world. Paul Green opened the first school in 1998.”
Dave Galatis, who is a vocalist in a band with his cousin, said the well-known, hit movie, “School of Rock,” starring Jack Black, actually came out five years later in 2003, igniting a major marketing push for the School of Rock franchises.
How does Bill Galatis describe the School of Rock in Lynn?
“The School of Rock is a ‘no punches pulled’ way to cultivate and teach kids about not just music and rock ‘n’ roll, but about the value of teamwork, getting enthusiastic and motivated about music and life,” said Galatis.
Many parents have related to the Galatises how the School of Rock has had a positive effect on their children’s lives and outlook.
“They tell us that their children’s grades improved in school, they have became more sociable, and their personalities have bloomed and flourished,” said Bill. “Their kids have found a place to grow and excel beyond the traditional music programs you see in elementary, middle, and high schools.”
Lynn Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre also praises the School of Rock and its leaders, Bill and Dave Galatis, for expanding the opportunities in music that are available for Lynn youths.
“The School of Rock is a great organization that does a lot of work that our traditional public schools aren’t able to do because they embrace the fine arts and they are giving an outlet to kids that otherwise wouldn’t be able to have these opportunities in our traditional public schools,” said LaPierre.
“The School of Rock puts on some great performances in Central Square and it’s been a beacon of light in the downtown area,” added LaPierre.
A former saxophonist in the Winchester High School marching band, Bill purchased his first guitar for $75 during his sophomore year.
“I got a 1989 Rolling Stones Tour t-shirt with it,” recalled Bill. “Six months later I played my first show with a band. From then on, I’ve been playing in bands, cover songs at first, but then once I graduated, I started writing my own songs, performing, and recording albums.”
Bill has fond memories of learning music under the tutelage of his first teacher, John Hurtado.
“I took music lessons with John my last three years in high school,” said Bill, who became an art major at Northeastern University and graduated in 2002. “I stayed in touch with him and John now teaches at our Schools of Rock in Lynn and Watertown.”
Bill remains as enthusiastic today about music as he was as a youth.
“I’ve always loved music. Without sounding cheesy, with all the favorite bands that I’ve ever had – instead of feeling like, ‘this is a catchy song,’ – my favorite bands sort of had something do with what I was going through in my life. I always hear a song and I don’t necessarily like it because the song rocks – I like it because the music spoke to me and the song resonates with me. These guys were speaking my language.”
The School of Rock tailors its core music programs to youths, ages 7 through 18. There is also a musical program for high school graduates and older. There are weekly rehearsals ranging 2-3 hours for students in the performance program. Each student also takes weekly 45-minute music lessons (guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocals). School of Rock bands have played at several local festivals and venues, including the Black Box Theater in Lynn.
“About 60 percent of our enrollment is from Lynn,” said Dave. “We have students from Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Saugus, Lynnfield and other North Shore communities.”
The School of Rock has found a home at 25 Exchange Street in Lynn and that’s music to the ears of the many students whose love of music is being cultivated by cousins Bill and Dave Galatis and their outstanding staff of instructors.
As one of their many appreciative students extolled, “These guys rock!”