Before Jack Black’s heartwarming, screwball comedy “School of Rock” even launched in theaters, the real School of Rock was turning boring piano lessons into rock sessions. Today, the School of Rock operates on a franchise model and includes a new location in Grand Rapids. Local owner Gwen Vryhof Bultema and music director Joshua Dreyer spoke to the MiBiz Podcast about what drew them to the opportunity, why they think it works, and what West Michigan gains from the company’s presence.
What was it about the School of Rock franchise that made you want to take a leap into music education?
Vryhof Bultema: The School of Rock is the music school that we wanted for our daughter and also the music school that we wanted for ourselves. We think it brings people together. School of Rock specifically is special because it’s music education done in a vibrant and collaborative environment, so it’s kids and adults building connections to music and to each other. They’re learning to play an instrument, but they’re also learning to communicate, to respect each other, to do their part, to be accountable for themselves.
How did you confirm that the franchise opportunity and the approach to music education were solid? ?
Vryhof Bultema: Josh’s family was a client of mine at our marketing and design firm, and I knew he had a music background, a few degrees in music performance, and I wanted his opinion on the program. Not only did I ask him about that, I also wanted to know if Josh knew anyone that would run the school for us if we might actually go down this path. Josh did his due diligence, called a few people, called a few owners, music directors. Fortunately, his opinion of the school was also favorable and not only that, but he said that he might want to run it, too.
What is it about being a drummer that has prepared you to take on this endeavor?
Dreyer: You take the drummer away and everyone else in the band doesn’t know what to do. I prefer to be the man behind the scenes, the background, not in the forefront. I like to do my part in making things move and making things steadily flow. That’s how I see myself as a general manager, too. I give my employees the tools they need. I make sure there’s a steady beat to flow through, but I don’t get in their business too much and I let them be the people that run the show.
Any challenges right now to what you’re doing or to future growth plans?
Dreyer: We could always use more music teachers. Our school is growing pretty rapidly right now and we all have been wearing a lot of hats, myself included.