Rock School

Just how important are tasty licks and righteous riffs to a young kid's education? If you ask Paul Green the answer is "plenty," and a good number of Philadelphia-area parents agree. There are currently 120 students enrolled at the Paul Green School of Rock Music, an afterschool program for kids aged 9 to 17, and there's only one thing on the curriculum:...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Just how important are tasty licks and righteous riffs to a young kid's education? If you ask Paul Green the answer is "plenty," and a good number of Philadelphia-area parents agree. There are currently 120 students enrolled at the Paul Green School of Rock Music, an afterschool program for kids aged 9 to 17, and there's only one thing on the curriculum: rock and roll! Zeppelin, Sabbath and, above all, Frank Zappa are on the syllabus. And while Ivy League-educated psychologist Green considers himself a natural teacher, his teaching technique involves pitting students against each other and haranguing them with rants that run from gentle, good-natured ribbing to flat-out verbal abuse, delivered at an ego-crushing volume. With a few exceptions, like the sensitive, suicidal sad-sack Will O'Connor, who Green calls a "piss-poor guitarist," none seems to mind. Aspiring singer/songwriter/guitarist Madi Diaz Svalgard, whose father also teaches at Green's school, even takes Green's cruel dismissal of her just-for-fun Quaker hip-hop group, The Friendly Gangster, in stride. It doesn't take long for the novelty of kids playing rock music to wear thin. Luckily, after an ear-bending intro-level Black Sabbath tribute show at a local venue — you haven't heard "Iron Man" until you've heard it screeched by a 9-year-old with an upside-down cross between her eyes — filmmaker Don Argott focuses on Green's upperclassmen as they prepare for an appearance at the 2003 Zappanale in Bad Doberan, Germany. Documentaries like SPELLBOUND (2002), HOOP DREAMS (1994) and this film are only as interesting as the kids they profile. But Green's students — like 12-year-old guitar whiz C.J. Tywoniak and the uncommonly cute Collins kids, 9-year-old fraternal twins who "play" guitar and drums — are continually butted out of the spotlight by the self-aggrandizing Green, whose outsize personality becomes the focus of Argott's film. Green manages even to make their Zappanale triumph — a moment that should serve as a high-water mark in their young careers — all about him. And if the story sounds vaguely familiar, you're not the only one who thinks so: Back in 2003, Green considered suing the producers of Richard Linklater's SCHOOL OF ROCK, a comedy in which the volatile Jack Black teaches a bunch of moppets how kick out the jams.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Just how important are tasty licks and righteous riffs to a young kid's education? If you ask Paul Green the answer is "plenty," and a good number of Philadelphia-area parents agree. There are currently 120 students enrolled at the Paul Green School of Roc… (more)

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