Gaspé students become 'one-day rock stars' with School of Rock program

Gaspé students become 'one-day rock stars' with School of Rock program

Flamboyant hairstyles, a good beat and a hardcore attitude is all it takes to turn ordinary high school students into rock n' roll musicians.

Five schools on the Gaspé coast are getting their shot at stardom with a new School of Rock program touring the region.

Kids learn how to play an instrument, write a song and record their 30-second hit, all within a two-hour session.

"We're kind of making them one-day rock stars," said Trevor Buttle, a teacher's aid at New Carlisle High School and the School of Rock co-ordinator.

The initiative, supported by the local Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA), is one of several workshops being offered to students outside the classroom, in collaboration with a federal government program called Expanding Horizons.

For some students, it's the first time they've ever held a musical instrument.

"There's so much demand for it because it's not really something that's in the school system anymore, and it's just something that kids seem to be drawn to," Buttle said on CBC Quebec's Breakaway.

One of the students who enrolled was 12-year-old Preston Major.

Already at ease on the drums, Major decided to try to string together a few tunes on the bass for the first time.

"It was a little hard, but yeah, I got the hang of it. It felt good," he said.

Major and his bandmates wrote a song about Buttle, with lyrics honouring their new manager — kind of:

Every day Trevor likes to wake up, hunt and fish

And that's the way that a baldy plays

Buttle said it's the first time he's had a song written about him.

"Kudos to them. Yeah, the whole bald thing well, that's really true," he said with a chuckle.

Kids rush to sign up

Buttle brought in his friend and fellow musician Dave Felker to help with the workshops.

The pair bring their own instruments to the recording sessions, along with costumes, smoke machines and neon lights to help the students get into character.

Buttle said even though some are shy at first, the setup wins them over fairly quickly.

Submitted by Trevor Buttle

When the sign-up sheet for the School of Rock went up at the schools, there weren't enough spaces available for all the young people who were interested.

"The demand is definitely there," said Buttle, who had to limit the activity to 15 students per class.

While it's not yet clear whether the program will be renewed in 2021, Buttle hopes more room will be made for music in Gaspé classrooms.

As for Preston, he has some words of advice for future School of Rock alumni. 

"Just be calm. Take three deep breaths and be happy about it."