When Rock & Roll After School’s Supergroup opened their set with Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Night” Wednesday night, they were setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
The music school held its grand reopening Wednesday night at its new location in the Marketplace shopping center in Collegeville, complete with a performance from its most advanced students.
Contemporary hits like “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Royals,” as well as classics like “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “Beat It” and “Johnny B. Goode” resonated in the new space alongside originals written by students. The performance lasted nearly an hour and a half at the event, which also included a ceremonial ribbon cutting and refreshments.
Erin Riley, the school’s owner, said she founded the organization to help kids get involved in an activity away from a screen.
“I want them to interact,” she said. “I have five kids of my own, and they’re always on a computer or texting. And I have a phone, I text, and that’s okay, but there are kids, that’s all they do. So I wanted to create a community rec center and music school.
“It also helps encourage life skills and social skills,” Riley added. “Confidence, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving – that’s what they’re learning. And they’re learning the things they think are important actually are important.”
The school originally opened at Franklin Commons in Phoenixville in 2009. At over 13,000 square feet, the new space, which used to be a fitness center, is more than twice the size of the old location, and has more to offer students, like pool and air hockey tables, a basketball court and plenty of practice rooms for playing and writing music.
And the busier location seems to have helped the school expand. Riley said she has gained 12 new students since moving to the shopping center last month.
And while the organization has grown rapidly, so too have its students. Judy Dowdalls, of West Norriton, said she has seen a big change in her daughter, Alina, since she started going to Rock & Roll After School a year and a half ago.
“It offers so many possibilities,” she said. “The confidence in [Alina] has progressed so much.”
“I’ve never seen instructors have so much interest in the students,” she added. “Not just musically, but in their lives.”
Dowdalls’ daughter, Alina, had nothing but positive things to say about her experience at the school.
“It’s amazing. I’ve met so many people who get me and they’re fun to be around,” she said. “Life’s gotten much more meaningful and the energy you get is just a really great rush.”
Alina played guitar and sang on several songs during the performance, including some of the originals that she helped to write. After the performance, she said the fun and comfortable atmosphere Rock & Roll After School provides has been important to helping her grow as a musician and a person.
“It’s a great place to go if you want to learn about music, write great music and hang out with people who like the same music as you,” she said. “It’s just got a really good vibe. And the instructors are great, too.”
As the evening drew to a close, the Supergroup closed their performance with a rendition of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a fitting song for an organization that provides kids with an opportunity to do what they love – rock out.