Gowanus Music Club is a local music school dedicated to teaching kids - and sometimes adults - the joys of being in a rock band.
Founded by musician, composer and producer Josh Margolis, Gowanus Music Club has been steadily growing since its inception in 2008.
"It started with a three day rock camp in the summer just to see if it could work," Margolis said. "I had been teaching one band in the city prior to that for about a year and I though maybe I could expand on that."
Expand, he did.
The school, which operates out of Complete Music Studio at 227 St. Marks Avenue (at Vanderbilt), now boasts two 12-week semesters, three week-long summer camps and nine total instructors.
In each semester, students are grouped together by age and experience. They are assigned an instructor and over the course of the semester they work together to develop a repertoire of material. At the end of each semester each band of students perform a concert at The Bell House or Union Hall.
There are 11 bands participating in the current winter semester. Most of the bands are comprised of kids, aged 8-16, but two of the bands this semester are different.
"One is an all-adult rock band," Margolis said. "Another is a family band spearheaded by a mother and a daughter."
Gowanus Music Club is different from traditional music schools where kids might learn an instrument with sheet music and rigid assigments. A big part of Gowanus' mission is to provide kids with choices and a sense of empowerment.
"It's super important to me that the kids suggest songs, vote on songs, fight over them and also be willing to accomodate other people's desires," Margolis said. "The dialogue that happens between the kids is as important as actually practicing the instruments. These are all real life lessons being learned."
And what do the kids want to play?
"Can you say Green Day?" Margolis laughed. "Every single band wants to play Green Day."
"It's funny," he added, " a lot of the young ones also really dig a lot of the classic rock that I was listening to as a teenager, like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Rolling Stones. The boys particularly like that kind of stuff, the girls have much more eclectic taste and are open to doing different things."
Speaking of girls, Margolis would like more of them involved in the school. Right now they only make up about 20 percent of the students. One of those students is his 8-year-old daughter, who plays the drums in the school's youngest band.
In fact, Margolis' daughter is a big part of the reason he started Gowanus Music Club.
"I was doing a lot of producing in the studio and I was getting tired of it, honestly," Margolis said. "I was a new father, my daughter was four years old at the time and I was doing a lot of caretaking of her. I thought I was pretty good at it and starting the school seemed like a way to combine these two skills. "
Those interested in joining the Gowanus Music Club in their rocking endeavors can get a taste of what they do this spring when they will host their first ever outdoor end-of-the-semester concert on Roosevelt Island.
"We're calling it GMC Rocks Rosey," Margolis said. "There's an outdoor stage from when they used to host Roosevelt Live. We'll have our 11 bands plus dance performances by The Dancewave out of Brooklyn, a group of champion Irish Step Dancers from Queens, a children's choir, food vendors and more - all for free."
GMC Rocks Rosey will be held on May 14 (Rain Date of May 15) on Riverwalk Commons on Roosevelt Island from 1pm-6pm. Admission is free. For more information about Gowanus Music Club and their programs, visit their website.