After being battered by COVID-19 restrictions, things appear to be getting closer to normal for students at Bach to Rock-America’s music school.
While the school successfully moved all lessons to virtual during the pandemic, the school is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with 60 percent of its students returning for in-person lessons.
Bach to Rock North Scottsdale owner Wes Gross feels proud of the way his school was able to keep the music flowing.
“The pandemic changed our curriculum, the way we look at music and the way we get music across to students,” he said.
Technology played a major role in the school’s formation.
Around the time he began contemplating his retirement from his 19-year career as an airline pilot, Gross knew he wasn’t quite ready to give up working just yet.
“During that period of time, I always had it in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t retire completely,” he said. “I thought about different things and towards the end of my career, I discovered FranNet and went through a series of interviews the year before I retired.”
Gross then visited the website for FranNet – a company that matches aspiring entrepreneurs with franchises they would work well in – and quickly discovered a business he was interested in.
“I found that there were a lot of things about the way that FranNet did business and the way franchisors do business that appealed to me,” he said. “I would have never known about Bach to Rock had it not been for FranNet and I never would have considered music as a business to get into when I retired from flying.”
Hearing about Bach to Rock rekindled a love Gross had during his childhood.
“When I first heard about Bach to Rock, I had this epiphany that this was what I did when I was a kid,” he said.
Gross first began playing the saxophone when he was in junior high and later graduated from playing in his high school’s marching band and orchestras to joining bands.
When Gross was a senior in high school, he played in a rock band, a R&B band and a Dixieland band, all of which he credits to his love of music education.
“I didn’t really start getting interested in the full complement of music and what could be done on stage until I was in those bands,” he said.
Because of this, his main goal is not to teach students how to play an instrument but to teach them how to become performers.
“The goal is not just to learn how to play the guitar, the goal is to have kids on stage performing live,” Gross said. “What got me really excited about music was being in a band, and that’s what happens here.”
For Gross, he doesn’t consider it a job well done until he sees the transformation he once had in his students.
“I look at the parents’ faces and children’s faces while the performance takes place and I’ll see the same transformation that happened to me when I went from being a saxophonist in the band to being up on stage playing the music I had always listened to,” he said.
Despite live performances being on hold for the better part of the past two years, Gross has attributed the help of his staff to being the reason why his students continue playing music.
“There are a lot of places to learn music outside of school,” he said. “A few things that differentiate us from the competition are the quality of our teachers, the atmosphere here and how inviting it is and our usage of technology.”
For technology, Gross has tablets on hand that have access to a portal for teachers to view each student’s profile. Within the profiles, teachers can examine the homework that students were assigned, their level of proficiency, their favorite music to play and what concepts they have already learned.
The portal is also accessible to students to allude to at home when they need to print out their music or want to keep track of their homework.
Even though technology has been a great tool for Bach to Rock, Gross feels it is the inviting atmosphere of his business along with the proficiency of the teachers at his facility.
“You can’t just be a good guitarist to teach here, you have to know music,” he said. “All of our students need to progress through playing notes, reading music, writing music, improvising and performing on a stage.”
Even though he is regularly reminded of how beloved his staff is by parents and students and feels proud of how well the technology has been utilized within his business, for Gross the most flattering comment is when parents tell him they can’t get their kids to put down or get away from their instruments.