Parents of RBL Artists:
Thank you for enrolling your artist in Rock Band Land.
Please be sure to read through all of the info below.
Before we Begin, An Important Note About Communication
At RBL we strive to be as clear as possible in our dissemination of information (see the novel below). Because parents are not allowed in RBL it is crucial that we have the correct contact info for parents and that you parents are kept up to date on all the fun that occurs within the castle as well as have access to the materials that your rocker will need to rehearse and get the most out of their experience. ALL of this information will be shared via email. Please double check that only parents are listed as Caregivers #1 and #2 in your rocker’s account. If they are not listed as #1 and #2, those parents will not be included on our email lists and will not receive any info regarding your rocker’s band.
If you are not sure who was listed in your rocker’s Connect account, please double check now and update it with your and your spouse’s contact info, respectfully listed as Caregiver #1 and #2. Please be sure to fill in the line “Relationship” (ie Mother / Father / Step Parent / etc…) If you are a single parent (big respect, keep going, you are doing a great job) feel free to leave Caregiver #2 empty if the other parent is out of the picture, or list yourself as both #1 and #2. If you do have to update a spouse’s info please also email me at Brian@rockbandland.org and send me the name, phone #, and email address so that I can add them to our email lists and emergency contact info.
All other people (nannies, grandparents, etc…) should be listed as Caregivers #3, 4, 5, etc…
Sorry for the extra step, but once updated your account should be good to go forever and ever, we hope!
The November December session of RBL classes and events starts the week of October 28, beginning on Monday and then each day through Sunday, November 3. 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 Video Bing Bong and Rock Out classes where we will screen their work. This session's Big Show will be on Sunday, December 8 at 12:30 at The Verdi Club. .We won't know the timing for each group’s video until later in the session. Please add this date to your calendar now and plan on your artist being busy with RBL fun from 12:30 - 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 artists 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 Video Bing Bong classes are as follows: Monday 4:00 - 6:00 / Tues 4:00 - 6:00 / Wed 4:00 - 6:00
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 Connect, 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 email@example.com. After Rebecca, our enrollment coordinator, is done teasing you for not being on top of your own stuff, she'll gladly remind you which class your artist 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 artist only shows up to RBL once a week at their Video Bing Bong class time (unless of course they are taking lessons at another time, or another class as well). This session begins on Monday, October 28 and then each day through Sunday, November 3 there are different classes. Your artist is only expected to be here on their class day / time. Capiche?
Rock Band Land Contact # 415-568-7643 / When to Text / When to Call (and When To Not Call)
Stop right now and put my (Brian's) number in your phone and list it as Rock Band Land. You will need this number to contact us if you are late or if there is an emergency.
Seriously though, put my number in your phone. Trust me, I hate using the phone as much as any other busy, self involved person in the 21st century, but this is important. If there is an emergency or a serious issue (after a 911 call, sickness, emotional distress, physical expressions of violence, etc...) that involves your artist or artist, I will be calling you - not texting or emailing. If you mistake me for a robo-spam call and let my call roll to voicemail that's time wasted. Rest assured I will not be calling to talk about the new Netflix series or to ask your opinions on the seemingly endless varieties of nut milks that have flooded the market. If I call, it's important. If I don't - which will be your experience 99.99999% of the time, then you can trust everything is cool with your artist.
General rule for contacting me: If your artist is with us at RBL and you have a question, then text me, do not call. I can not always answer my phone, especially if I'm leading an activity. I will reply as soon as I am free to do so.
If your question requires an involved answer, please email me at Brian@rockbandland.org. I will reply before the day's end.
If your artist is not at RBL and you have a question, email me. Please do not text me. Seriously, don't text me. If you need to talk about an issue in class email me first and we'll schedule a call that works for both of us. In previous years some parents thought it'd be super fun to text me often between the hours of 11:00pm and 6:00am when I'm pretending to sleep. Oh boy, that was fun to wake up to each night - multiple times. So fun. If you have weak boundaries, it's time to get some fence materials and start building.
I will only reply to class texts between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm. Outside of those hours, email is king or queen, or a democratically elected, socialist leaning prime minister.
Who Will Be Teaching My Artist?
Video Bing Bong is led by Taylor McElroy & Alejandra Widner. You can see more about them here on our RBL Team Page.
What Will My artist 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 Video Bing Bong classes artists will form a production team, learn a RBL story and its companion song, and then transform that story and song into a mind-blowing music video. The crew will conceptualize the video, storyboard it, they will design the props and make up, they will learn a variety of styles of animation, they will explore acting, and learn the basics of video production.
Special Concerns, Medical, Behavioral, and Developmental Issues
If something is happening in your artist'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 artist 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 improved 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 artist 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 artist 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 or not you tell us, we almost always know when something is going on developmentally with one of our artists. 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.
Hmm, Should I Stay or Should I Go?
You will go!
Rock Band Land is a parent / caregiver free zone (see below). We are extremely strict on this rule.
RBL is a Parent / Caregiver Free Zone
Parents, I've some good news and some bad news.
-- The good news: your artist is about to embark on a completely bonkers, creative adventure at Rock Band Land.
-- The bad news:you won't be on that adventure with them, in fact beyond our entranceway (The Cinnamon Forest) you won't even be in the building.
Though we have enormous respect for good parenting and believe that it is the cornerstone for building a society of decent people, Rock Band Land is here for the artists and their needs, not for you. When you are in our space during class time you are at best a distraction for our staff and the other artists, and at worst you are completely in the way, and potentially a safety hazard. From the second our artists arrive our staff will be engaging with them and observing the social dynamics and behaviors among the artists. When parents are in the space, they interrupt that process and take our staff's attention away from our artists.
That went well, how about some more good news and bad news? This time, bad news is first.
-- The bad news: if you are a player (this goes out to dad's especially) and think that you will be coming in for 30-40 minutes of sick jam time on the instruments with your kid each day, please reshape your thinking, that's not happening.
-- The good news: remember, Guitar Center will always love you.
New parents, welcome to Rock Band Land! Please don't be frightened. I am unapologetically a real jerk when I have to be to make sure that our artists get the best experience possible while they are in our care, but make no mistake about it, we absolutely value our parent community. If you are nervous about sending your artist to a class that you will be denied entrance to, please don't be because we work tirelessly to care for our artists and to make RBL one of the best extracurricular options in the country.
Separation anxiety is a real thing. If your artist experiences separation anxiety please connect with me in advance and follow our lead during drop off. If you are the nervous sort, please rest easy, we've had thousands of artists and artists in RBL and have helped countless young artists overcome their separation anxiety. Within minutes we'll have your artist laughing and joining in the fun. If your artist does experience separation anxiety, it's crucial that you be on time for drop off. Tardiness simply worsens their experience, amplifies their anxiety, and makes it harder for us to smoothly integrate them into the fun that's unfolding in the castle.
The key to successfully integrating an artist who is experiencing separation anxiety is to first have the parents inform them in advance that mom and dad are not allowed in RBL. This should be done not while driving to RBL on the first day but a few days / weeks or so in advance and then with regular follow ups so they can be prepared. It should also be framed a positive for the artist, be excited about it when you share the info with them. Then, on the first day, when dropping off you should make a swift and clean, unemotional goodbye. Give them a quick hug and then off you go. Don't linger, and definitely don't come back to "check in". You'd be surprised at the number of folks who sabotage their child's own success by trying to "check in" on their kid. Almost always that's all about the parent's issues and not the kid's anxiety and I run hard defense on those folks so that their artist can have the best experience possible. Believe me, we get it - it's hard to leave when your child is upset or nervous, or in tears, but sometimes it's exactly the right thing to do to help them grow and develop.
If you know now that a rolling drop off (see below) is not going to work for your artist and you are expecting tears or a meltdown on day one. Here's what you do:
— On day one arrive early enough to park and be waiting outside when we open doors (10 minutes prior to the class’s start time). We'll greet you and your artist and if they need an extra minute or two with you that's fine.
— You can either hang out front or, in this one exception, we'll allow you into the entranceway to sit with your artist. You will not be allowed into the main hall or second levels.
— Either myself or one of our staff will keep checking in with your artist, when we see an opportunity to integrate them into the rest of the class, we'll encourage your artist to give you a hug and then tell you it's time to go. Please respect that and go when asked.
— As mentioned, there may be tears and that is sometimes part of the process.
Food, Drinks, and Snack
artists are encouraged to bring water bottles (filled with water only), but please send your artist to class fed. We know lots of folks drop off their artists as they are finishing up their snacks. Please choose snacks that are free from nut products. artists will not be allowed to bring snacks, gum, or candy into class. The big exception here is if we are picking up your artist from their school. These artists will usually be a few minutes early and we make sure they time to finish something from their lunchbox.
With the exception of offering pickles once per session, we do not provide snack during Video Bing Bong. Pickles have become something of a thing in RBL, get used to it! If your artist has an allergy to pickles (mustard seeds) or to green food (not boogers obviously), please be sure to let us know.
Video Bing Bong is a cumulative, creative program, building week-to-week with the same artists in each crew towards The Big Show. Sorry, drop-ins are not allowed.
Each week we send out a mailer documenting the crew'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 artist 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 Connect (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 Connect 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.
Not Afraid of The Dark
(This section doesn’t necessarily apply to VBB, but since they will be working off an existing story / song I wanted you to be aware of our content.)
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 artist is about to participate in.
We write and produce only original material with our artists. 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 an artist 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 artist 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 artists 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 artist to participate in and to consume.
The longer your artist 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 artist 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 artist 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.
If your artist shows up to RBL sick I will send them home with you, or if they were on van pick up, I will be calling you to pick them up early.
Thank you in advance for helping to keep the rest of the crew healthy.
Lice Aint Nice
Just like in school, if your artist is ill in any way and/or has a contagious or spreadable condition such as lice, measles, chicken pox, impetigo, pink eye, or any others, PLEASE KEEP THEM HOME. This is not an ask or a polite request—this is our policy.
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.
I know some folks think that lice and the other contagious and spreadable conditions listed above are no big deal, but when you run a family-centric close-quarters business like RBL it is in fact a huge deal. Out of consideration for the well-being of all of our artists, their families, and our RBL staff, if your artist is sent to class/camp/event with any of the above or similar conditions (whether you are aware of it or not) and/or we even suspect your artist has any of the above or similar conditions, RBL reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to send your artist home immediately. Please also be aware that it will be necessary for us to separate your artist from the group to contain any spread while they wait for you to arrive. Your artist will not be allowed back to RBL until they have been cleared by a medical doctor or professional lice service (whichever is applicable) and you have provided RBL with documentation. Further, refunds will not be given for any missed class/camp/event days.
Potty Trained Humans
This one seems like a no brainer and yet here we go: all artists must be able to use the restroom without assistance from teachers.
I have many years working in the direct care field with adults with developmental disabilities, and I've helped to raise three 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 artist gets ill or has an accident we will help them and make sure they are safe and clean, but in general they have to show up with a solo plan for toilet navigation.
Crocs Do Not Rock
Please do not send your artists to Video Bing Bong 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 artists will need to navigate through, on top of that we have several teaching rooms on the second floor (stairs). Your artist needs to have reliable footwear to help keep them safe in the castle.
Dress for Success
While on the topic of healthy fashion choices, your artist is in a unique program that will include green screening. This means if they wear a green shirt, a green pair of pants, a green headband, a green scarf, a green burka, a green pair of shoes, or a green handkerchief that is super long when you pull it out much like a clown, that portion of their body will not show up on film. To make things easier on everyone, please do your best to NOT send your artists in green on VBB days. Should we want to make part of your artists' body disappear (on film) we have some fun green screen bodysuits for such occasions.
Costumes, Props & Face paint
Every video that Video Bing Bong makes uses some combination of face paint and costumes to depict various outrageous characters. We may reach out to families by email for item loans for props after our video has been conceptualized. The face paint we might use on filming day(s) is "Non-toxic, FDA compliant, Paraben Free & totally Hypoallergenic." However if your child has very sensitive skin, and/or you would like us to skip the paint on their face for any other reason, please let us know by their first drop off. Similarly, if you prefer your artist is not in a costume that may have been worn by another artist, please let us know that as well.
RBL Drop Off & Pick Up Protocols
We employ a Stop Drop & GO! and system at RBL. It’s really simple, stop your car, drop off your rocker, and go. OR if picking up stop your car, pick up your rocker, and go. Stay in your car, stay in the line of cars, that are waiting to pick up or drop off, if there for more than a minute please turn your car off so we don’t choke the world anymore than we already are,
For whatever reason, this has proven confusing for some folks. If you didn’t understand the previous few sentences, please keep reading. If you did, please skip down to the next section. If your rocker is being picked up by another family member or caregiver please make this information available to them. These protocols have been designed with our rockers' safety in mind and they will only work if we are all participating to that end. Thank you in advance for helping pick up and drop off run as smoothly as possible.
RBL is located at 400 - E Treat Ave @ 17th. Treat Ave is a one-way street running south. The safest and best way to approach RBL is to come heading east via 17th Street and turn right on Treat. If you come from the west or down Treat from 16th you will have to cross 17th at Treat Ave. That intersection is already tricky as it is positioned at an odd angle and there are no traffic lights. Crossing at 17th will be challenging, potentially dangerous, and should be avoided.
Rolling Drop Off Protocol
There will be two orange safety markers on the street in front of RBL. Please pull up in between those markers or form a line behind the cars already waiting to drop off. Drivers should stay in their cars and we'll come to you.
Please have your artist and their belongings ready to go. If your artist is not ready (ie putting on shoes, looking for their special Pokemon car, wanting to finish listening to the traffic report on NPR) then we may instruct you to go around the block so you don't hold up the line behind you.
All artists will be greeted and should exit from the passenger’s side of the car. DO NOT LET THE artistS EXIT FROM THE DRIVER’S SIDE OF THE CAR. This will be a moving traffic lane.
There's no sign in sheet for you to sign, just a quick hello from you is all we ask. Once we give you the okay, please drive on and go enjoy your day. We’ll make sure your artist has an amazing experience.
If you prefer to walk your artist to the front door you’ll need to find parking. Please do not double park and be sure to not block any of our neighbors’ driveways or roll up garage doors. Seriously, don't do that. We have a great relationship with our neighbors but they get understandably upset when they can't access or exit their businesses due to RBL traffic. No one wants to add a shouting match to their day, and that is what will happen if you block their driveways.
Drop Off Times
Drop off begins 10 minutes prior to the start of a given class (i.e. if class starts at 4:00, drop off begins at 3:50) and ends 5 minutes after a class’s scheduled start time. After that our staff will begin transitioning into activities and the front door will be closed. Please ring the bell and we’ll come to greet you. If you’ll be super late please text me at 415-568-7643.
Walking / Bicycle Drop Off
We do not have bicycle (or scooter or skateboard) storage for artists at RBL. There is no bicycle parking in front of RBL (we tried to have them installed but the sidewalks are too narrow). Down the block, closer to 18th St, there is a series of bike racks. Please lock up your artist’s bike there.
If you are dropping off on foot one of our staff will greet you in the entrance way. Please remember that though I am always happy to answer your questions, at drop off and pick up my (and our staff’s) attention must be on our artists and their safety and it may not be possible for me to check in with you at that time.
Pick Up Times
Pick up will start at the class’s scheduled end time. We will come out on the minute. If you arrive early and have not previously set up an early pick up notice with me, please hang tight. and don't ring the bell. We do not answer the door at the end of a class time.
Vehicle Pick Up Protocol
Beginning at 3:30 RBL staff will be out front to greet parents picking up. Just like in the morning, there will be two orange safety markers on the street in front of RBL. Please pull up in between those markers or line up behind the cars waiting to pick up.
As you roll up just remind us who you are picking up. We will then walkie talkie into the castle and your artists will soon come out smiling and ready for the next adventure in the day. We ask that if your artist needs help buckling that you get out of your car and load them from the passenger side to speed up the process. Please load all artists from the passenger side of the car. DO NOT LET THE artistS ENTER FROM THE DRIVER’S SIDE OF THE CAR. This will be a moving traffic lane. If they don't need help buckling you can stay in the driver's seat, we'll bring them to you and then off you go.
Once we hand them off to the driver, your artist’s RBL time will have concluded and they are the responsibility of that person. When they are safely loaded and buckled please be on your way so that we can accommodate the next person in line.
Walking Pick Up
If you are picking up on foot please wait outside in front of our roll up garage door.
Three RBL staff will be out front communicating with the drivers of pick up vehicles. Please let one of them know who you are picking up and then wait there.
Once we hand them off to the person picking up your artist’s RBL time will have concluded and they are the responsibility of that person.
Aftercare Pick Up
If your artist is in aftercare simply and you are picking up at 6:00, simple follow the steps above. If you are picking up before 6:00 please text me 10 minutes before you arrive and we’ll make sure they are ready when you arrive. Once we hand them off to the driver, your artist’s RBL time will have concluded and they are the responsibility of that person.
Early Pick Up Party Crashers
Often many new parents will try and arrive early for pick up to either get our attention and talk for a minute or to get a sneak peek at the inner workings of RBL. Obviously if you need to pick up early for an appointment or something that is of course ok, but if you are trying to get our attention, this is the absolute worst time to do so. We always have lots of little details to tend to to get our artists out safely each day. Please do not come early if you can help it.
If you'd like to speak with me, or ask any questions, I'll be more than happy to talk with you after we dismiss the crew or later in the day via email.
Doors / Prep Time
Video Bing Bong 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 artist 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 artist 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 artist spending 6 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.