Rock Out Info
Parents of RBL Rockers:
Thank you for enrolling your rocker in Rock Band Land.
Please be sure to read through all of the info below.
The February / March session of RBL classes and events starts the week of April 1, beginning on Monday and then each day through Sunday, April 7. Class dates are always posted here if you need a reminder during the session.
The Big Show
The Big Show is the culminating event of our Rock Out classes. This session's Big Show will be on Sunday, May 5 at 12:30 at The Verdi Club. You and your rocker’s siblings will all be on the guest list (don't buy tickets for yourself!) and here's the ticket link for your rocker's friends and fans.
There will be a pre-show dress rehearsal for each band on the morning but we won't know what the individual bands' call times until later in the session. Please add this date to your calendar now and plan on your rocker being busy with RBL fun from 9:00 - 2:30.
Where is Rock Band Land?
Rock Band Land is located inside Castle Bing Bong 400-E Treat Avenue. The castle is hidden from the street, it’s a secret for your rockers to discover. To throw spies from other kingdoms off our trail we have hung a sign for a fake business out front. You’ll know it’s us when you see it.
When is Rock Band Land?
Though we have a variety of creative classes and are open 7 days a week, our Rock Out classes are as follows: Weekday Rock Out (Wed / Thur / Friday) will be from 4:00 - 6:00, with the exception of the New School / Live Oak early release class which is Wed 2:30 - 4:30. Saturday Rock Out will be from 9:00 - 11:00.
What Class Is My Kid In?
Please allow me to answer that question with a question: What class did you enroll them in? That's the one.
If you are still not sure you can check your inbox for a receipt from ActivityHero, the enrollment service we employ to make all of our lives easier. If after trying that you still don't know, go ahead and shoot an email to Brian@rockbandland.org. After I'm done teasing you for not being on top of your own stuff, I'll gladly remind you which class your rocker is in.
Do I have To Drive To Your Stinking Castle Every Stinking Day?
I know this seems obvious, but every session some folks get confused. Your rocker only shows up to RBL once a week at their Rock Out class time (unless of course they are taking lessons at another time, or another class as well). This session begins on Monday, April 1, and then each day through Sunday, April 7 there are different classes. Your rocker is only expected to be here on their class day / time. Capiche?
Rock Band Land Contact Number
Take a second now and put my (Brian) phone # in your phone: 415-568-7643. This is the number to text if late, if you need to pick up early, or if there is an emergency. This is also the number that I will be calling you from in case of an emergency or issue involving your rocker. Having my number saved will save time if I need to get ahold of you, so you don’t mistake me for a robo-call selling you air duct cleaners or debt consolidation. To be clear, we offer neither of those services at RBL.
Who Will Be Teaching My Rocker?
All Rock Out and Pre-K Rock Out classes are led by Brian Gorman and Marcus Stoesz. We are the directors, the teachers, the recording engineers, the bookers, the windbags, the storytellers, the janitors, the performers, the backing band, and the recipients of so many ridiculous jokes, touching comments and curious, amazing thoughts from your rockers. We each have decades of teaching, childcare, and direct care experience and we have written, recorded, and toured extensively with our fancy pants rock bands.
In our classes we are fortunate enough to have the support of the three Taylors: Taylor McElroy & Taylor Giffin (together known as Mt. TT) and Taylor Vick (T-Vick), we have an Alejandra (aka Big Wham), a Maira (aka Mairacuda), a Kyle (aka Dead Leg), and a Florie (Flowerpot). These human donkeys are extraordinary teachers, talented artists, and hilarious people.
What Will My Rocker Do In Class?
Rock Band Land is a creativity program that focuses on imaginative thought, play, and collaboration through rock music and storytelling. In our Rock Out classes rockers will form a band, collectively write an original story, and share musical ideas in the form of musical patterns and interactive jams. From that story and those musical ideas we will create an original rock song. The band will help write the song and story, learn the song, record it, and perform it at The Big Show. All of this takes place in just six, action packed meetings (five classes and The Big Show).
To get a better sense of what to expect of Rock Out and Rock Band Land, please check out this video, read this article from the Chronicle, or listen to a radio piece on KALW, and definitely listen to the Rock Band Land Broadcast Podcast. We've written over 300 songs with our bands and you can listen to them all here!
Special Concerns, Medical, Behavioral, and Developmental Issues
If something is happening in your rocker's mind or body that might effect their experience or their behavior in our class, please be sure to share this information with us. Our staff has vast experience working with kids (and adults) with special needs. We will do everything in our power to help accommodate your rocker and give them the best experience possible.
I include this section because in the past there have been numerous examples where parents who, for whatever reason, have chosen to withhold this kind of information from us and, if they had shared it, we could have significantly bettered their child's experience. Sometimes they simply forgot to tell us, sometimes they weren't sure, and sometimes they were either in denial, embarrassed, or afraid of stigmatizing their rocker with a label that might accompany a doctor's diagnosis.
This is your reminder to not forget. If you are dancing with denial or embarrassment, get over it. This is about your kid and not your feelings. And if you are concerned about stigmatizing your rocker with a label, please do not worry - we have your kid's back.
Here's the thing:
Every single one of us has issues of some sort. We all come rocketing out of our mothers a perfect blend of completely awesome and totally messed up. Some issues are major, some are minor, and together they make us who we are.
Here's the other thing:
Whether you tell us or not, we almost always know when something is going on developmentally with one of our rocker's. We are not therapists or medical professionals - and we don't claim to be, but we know kids. Though we are fully capable of accessing and reshaping a situation to accommodate specific concerns that we see in a child, it's eight million billion times better for your child if you share information with us from the get-go so that we can work together to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.
Can My Rocker Bring Their Own Instruments?
Yes and no. Though we provide all the instruments for the bands (drums, mics, guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, and percussion), rockers are welcome to bring smaller instruments from home if they have them. Guitars and percussion instruments are fine, but please no keyboards, sousaphones, pipe organs, upright basses, full drum sets, or giant mountain horns. If your rocker's "instrument" is a gassy dad who only makes sounds when squeezed, definitely leave that at home.
On the first day it's best to leave their instruments at home.
Hmm, Should I Stay or Should I Go?
You will go!
Rock Band Land is a parent / caregiver free zone during our classes. We are extremely strict on this rule.
New parents will be invited into the castle’s reception area at drop off, but we respectfully ask (by "ask" I mean insist) that you make a swift drop off and take full advantage of a kid free two hours by enjoying your time away from Rock Band Land. We will host an open house prior to the start of the session, where you are encouraged to come see Castle Bing Bong.
If your rocker is prone to experiencing separation anxiety please communicate that with us before hand. It is completely normal that your rocker might be a little nervous or shy on the first day of class. We will engage with them right away to help them feel comfortable. The only time that we have ever had a nervous rocker who we couldn't turn around was when the parent insisted on staying. This is not an option any longer. When we say, "Ok parents it's time to go," please go.
Food, Drinks, and Snack
Rockers are encouraged to bring water bottles (filled with water only), but please send your rocker to class fed. We know lots of folks drop off their rockers as they are finishing up their snacks. Please choose snacks that are free from nut products. Rockers will not be allowed to bring snacks, gum, or candy into class. The big exception here is if we are picking up your rocker from their school. These rockers will usually be a few minutes early and we make sure they time to finish something from their lunchbox.
With the exception of pickles to each week's band leaders, we do not provide snack during Rock Out. Pickles have become something of a thing in RBL, get used to it! All rockers will be a band leader once per session. If your rocker has an allergy to pickles (mustard seeds) or to green food (not boogers obviously), please be sure to let us know.
Sleep Over Buddies (for Sat morn classes) & Drop Ins
Mostly for Sat parents:
"Hey Brian, my rocker had a great time with their friends at a sleep over last night, we are wondering if we the whole gang can drop-in to class today?"
"Hmmm. Let's see .... Nope!"
Rock Out is a cumulative, creative program, building week to week with the same rockers each band towards The Big Show. Sorry, drop-ins are not allowed and sleep over mates are 100% your problem. Happy pancake making.
Each week we send out a mailer documenting the band's progress and providing parents with info for the coming week. Some of these emails will be super important as they will include materials that your rocker will need to get the most out of their RBL experience.
As our email list for each class is created simply by copying and pasting the info that you provided to ActivityHero (the enrollment service we use), if you or your spouse are not receiving emails from us this is most likely due to 1 of 3 reasons:
The info that you provided in ActivityHero was only partially filled out (ie only one person's info was included).
There was a typo/s in the emails provided.
Your email account has redirected our correspondence to Promotions, Social, or Spam folders. Please check there and mark us as safe.
Additional email addresses can be added to the list by sending an email requesting the addition to Brian@rockbandland.org.
In the Rock Out classes the teachers are the producers for the bands. You are the managers. The rockers are the stars - though we don't tell them that to avoid making them susceptible to contracting big head syndrome. Like all great bands the success of the band is dependent on all of us doing our respective jobs and doing them well.
We will do everything in our powers to see to it that each rocker has an amazing, creative experience with us. We will challenge and push your rocker creatively to write a mind-blowing story and song with their band, and we will throw a huge rock show at the end to celebrate the bands and the rockers themselves.
We expect you, as parent managers:
To be on time for pick up and drop off.
To provide your rockers with all of the song materials that we send home (via email).
To practice with them as often as possible, and to be sure they are prepared for their recording and performance day.
To communicate directly with us if ever concerns or issues arise.
We expect you to help promote their Big Show and to give them the biggest, most supportive audience possible.
We expect you to stay after your rocker has performed to support the other rockers and bands.
As the session wraps we expect you to download and make accessible to your rocker the final recorded versions of their song and the story.
We will provide you with all of the materials required to do your jobs well.
If we all do our part each rocker will leave Rock Band Land feeling like the rock stars that they are. If we don't, then we adults are all like broken vacuum cleaners and suck just a little bit.
Not Afraid of The Dark
We want to be sure that everyone is absolutely, completely, totally, without a doubt, one hundred thousand million percent checked out on the amazing experience your rocker is about to participate in.
We write and produce only original material with our rockers. We do so with great care and passion, and though we help steer, we mostly follow their lead when it comes to the directions the stories and resulting songs go in. We have a few simple rules that we insist are followed:
We must respect our bandmates and their ideas.
Our stories and songs must be original.
Though anything can happen in our stories including dark, spooky, tragic, and dangerous things, there must be a sense of redemption in each song / story, and the messages of our songs can't be mean.
Potty words aren't allowed.
Most importantly, if a rocker feels like they can make an idea better, or if something makes them uncomfortable it is their responsibility to speak up and to offer an alternative suggestion. Don't worry, if your rocker is on the shy side, we are constantly scanning the room during the writing sessions to see if someone looks uncomfortable or is frightened by the story's direction. When we see that we stop everything to help them through, either by clarifying something that maybe was frightening them unnecessarily, or by changing / adding on to the idea.
If those rules are followed we can go almost anywhere thematically, and we do.
Sometimes our subject matter is dark. We have written about some really spooky and frightening things - in fact more than any other type of story, our rockers almost always ask to write a scary or spooky tales. We've written about a magic canyon that steals kids, a blind man who has fallen in love with a woman with a severed head, a penguin who married a dead, rotting fish, a peacock that was abused in a Victorian zoo and came back from the dead to avenge it's death, plagues, kidnapers, demons, trees that give human body parts, a wish granting trains made out of bones, we've written about fear, great battles, bullying, revenge and retribution.
We write this to you not to frighten you, because we believe entirely in our process and our creations, but just so that you are completely aware of what we do. We know everyone is crazy busy and a lot of folks sign up for programs simply because their friends' kids are in it. There is nothing at all wrong with that, but Rock Band Land is definitely not T-Ball.
If you have yet to listen to some of the songs and stories, we encourage you to do so now. We do what we do and we do it well, and though a creativity program, we are also art and media creators. As with all media and art it's your responsibility as parents to determine what is right for your rocker to participate in and to consume.
As we write our songs and stories with the bands we will be sharing them with you every step of the way. If ever a concern arises we are always available to discuss how and why the story developed as it did.
The longer your rocker stays with Rock Band Land the more their collection of awesome songs and stories will grow. As will their attachment and investment in these stories and songs.
Sicky Sick Sick
Just like in regular school, if your rocker is sick please keep them home. In our line of work we are pretty much aircraft carriers for kids' colds, providing safe landing for the out of control, renegade germs that fly into your children and out of their mouths and noses. The thing about being sick is, it's no fun. We prefer to keep RBL fun for all, including us teachers.
If your rocker has to miss a class we'll be sure to catch them up and we'll send any materials that they might need to you via email.
Thank you in advance for helping to keep the rest of the band healthy.
Lice Aint Nice
We know that lice is not uncommon among our rockers' age group. Chances are most of you have already been through lice scares at your rocker's school. If you have experienced it you know that it's not as gross as the stigma makes it out to be, but it does take fair amount of time, effort, and money to rid oneself of lice. Just like colds and flus, if your rocker has lice please keep them home until they have been cleared. It's usually just a few days, and I'll happily send home any materials that they might have missed.
Yes, as a neat freak who works with kids, I have a personal interest in this, but mostly I think that to knowingly send your kid to interact with others, when they could potentially infest them with lice, is the equivalent of cleaning your soiled, cloth diapers in the public pool. It's nasty, hugely disrespectful to the other families in our community, and doing so will get you permanently removed from all future RBL pool parties.
I have long tried to joke about this and keep it light, as is our style at RBL, and yet some folks have still tried to leave their kids at RBL when they had lice. Seriously, don't do it. We always find out, the kids are always sent home, and the parents are always embarrassed for either being selfish or for trying to pull a fast one on us. Save yourself the hassle.
Potty Trained Humans
This one seems like a no brainer and yet here we go: all rockers must be able to use the restroom without assistance from teachers.
I have many years working the direct care field with adults with developmental disabilities, and I've helped to raise two kids. Even if you took all the feces that piles up on the street each day outside RBL and saved it for a year (believe me, it's a lot), it would still pale in comparison to the amount of butt butter and slurm snakes that I have wiped off of other humans. Those days are done.
Obviously if your rocker gets ill or has an accident we will help them and make sure they are safe and cleaned, but in gerneral they have to show up with a solo plan for toilet navigation.
Crocs Do Not Rock
Please do not send your rockers to Rock Out in Crocs, flip flops, wheeled shoes, sandals, or those weird sock-like shoes that leave your toes wiggling in public like maggots. We use real instruments that can be heavy and unwieldy and there are often many cables on the stage that the rockers will need to navigate through, on top of that we have have several teaching rooms on the second floor (stairs). Your rocker needs to have reliable footwear to help keep them safe in the castle.
Pick Up & Drop Off
Compared to our former home on 17th St., Treat Ave is like a country road. It’s quiet and tree lined, and were it not for the needles and broken glass, the people, and the giant PG&E parking lot you might think you were in the Irish countryside. Parents must get out of their car for pick up and drop off. We realize parking that can be a challenge and sometimes double parking is a necessity. Please take care as you are picking up and dropping off, and please be respectful of our neighbors by not blocking their driveways.
Doors / Prep Time
Rock Out requires a great deal of class preparation on our part, often this preparation runs right to the start of class. We will do our best to open the doors 10 minutes before each class start time - at that time your rocker is welcome to come in, but if the doors are closed please be patient. We will absolutely open at each class's scheduled start time. Also at the end of class we will open the doors on the minute, if they are closed please don’t ring the bell. We know you are out there.
Thanks to all you nice people and your cool kids, RBL has become a popular destination for local weirdos. We tend to fill up well in advance for our classes and camps. If your rocker is enjoying their time with us, we encourage you to look at our class and camp schedules now and reserve their spots for the future. Don't make the mistake that many parents have made by waiting till the end of the session only to find that we are full. Those parents rarely make that mistake twice because instead of a happy rocker spending six weeks with us, they end up with an inconsolable, crying child for 6 weeks. The parents feel guilty, they try and buy their kid's affections back, there are daily ice cream parties and cakes, the kids become another statistic on the childhood obesity charts, and the parents, if they manage to stay together and alive during this ordeal, age gracelessly and in despair. Please don't let this happen to you.
If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to write to me at Brian@rockbandland.org.