Tony Avalon leads Rock Nation where rock stars are born

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carole rosner90BY CAROLE ROSNER

Tony Avalon knows something about the music business. As the second oldest son of Frankie Avalon, you can say it’s in his genes. Of course he can sing and play a lot of instruments, but he also understands the importance of song structure, music theory, and team work — plus he knows what it takes to get a record deal. The younger Avalon incorporated all of his talents into Rock Nation, an advanced level, hands-on, performance based, music school for kids, teens and adults, that recently opened its fourth location in Studio City.

“This is a place where rock stars are born,” Avalon stated.  Kate Cabebe, drummer for the Disney supported band KSM, is a Rock Nation alum, as is JetSteam, which was recently signed by RCA.

Rock Nation Studio City follows in the footsteps of this popular music program that is also in Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks and Santa Monica.  The Studio City location is a  3,300 square foot space which includes private practice rooms, two “jam” rooms, and recording facilities. The staff is made up of professional (i.e. working) musicians that often come off the road to teach here.

Tony Avalon. Photo: Carole Rosner

Tony Avalon. Photo: Carole Rosner

Rock Nation is the ultimate music education school,” said Avalon. “This is an all-age program. We put together an original band of students and set them on the right path. They are showcased all around town.”

Venues where the students have performed recently include the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal City, The Knitting Factory in Hollywood, Canyon Club in Agoura and the Ventura Majestic Theater.

Audrey Jackson, School Manager at the Studio City location, pointed out the difference between Rock Nation and other music programs— “The students learn to play in a band here. They are not mimicking notes. They play original songs with real musicians.”

Rock Nation offers classes in piano, drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, violin and vocals. A new class in acting is also available.

“My son, Jack, had the biggest smile on his face when he picked up the electric bass at Rock Nation three years ago. Now he’s there five to six days a week playing with his band “Slatr,” said Alicia Dorian, parent of two Rock Nation students, Jack, 12, and Ryan, 9. “I can’t say enough about this program…the staff has the most amazing contacts and reputation. The teachers are all very nurturing and positive and that really helps the kids’ self esteem.”

Mark "Muddy" Dutton, Music Director Rock Nation, with student, Kailey. Photo: Courtesy Rock Nation

Mark "Muddy" Dutton, Music Director Rock Nation, with student, Kailey. Photo: Courtesy Rock Nation

Kelly Stedman, parent of Teagan, 10 and Hudson, 7, concurs that Rock Nation has positively influenced  her sons. “Hudson was a really shy kid but once he saw other kids singing in the bands, he thought he would try it. His vocal teacher is great. They learn scales with a piano as well as stage presence and how to engage an audience. Rock Nation makes everything more colorful in our lives.”

Students range in age from five years to adult and are assessed to determine their skill level when they start, as well as monitor their progress throughout the program. There are five performance levels in the “Rock Nation Society” ranging from “Roadie” (beginning level class that includes weekly private lessons and one hour group workshops) to “Rock Nation Master Shredder” (most advanced class that includes weekly private lessons, 2-3 hour group workshops, mentoring program, and a minimum of four live shows a year).

“Rock Nation is awesome. Me and my band, ‘The Rockaholics,’ get to play great music and write our own songs,” said drum student Max Wright,8. Vocalist Spencer Marsten, also 8, said, “The direction I get from these awesome instructors make me feel like I’m going to be the best musician I can be.”

Rock Nation’s “Summer Rock Tour 2010”  is a two-week program being held this summer. Students of all ages learn two to three songs during an intensive week-long session. During the second week the students perform six live shows around town with a final performance held at The Roxy in Hollywood.

Rock Nation's first band: The Rockaholics (L-R) Spencer, lead singer; Max, drums; Kaily, keyboards; Edan guitar; Sarah, bass. Photo: Courtesy Rock Nation

Rock Nation's first Studio City band: The Rockaholics (L-R) Spencer, lead singer; Max, drums; Kaily, keyboards; Edan guitar; Sarah, bass. Photo: Courtesy Rock Nation

The staff at Rock Nation knows the importance of giving back to the community. The Rock Nation Foundation was created to support public schools, underprivileged youth and local charities. Rock Nation bands often perform at community sponsored events (such as the recent Studio City Holiday Parade and local public school fundraisers) and have played at benefit concerts for the National Kidney Foundation and Shred Fest For Cancer.

Special for MDF readers. Sign up for “Summer Rock Tour 2010” by Jan. 31 and receive $750 off the regular tuition rate. Regular rate is $2000, special rate is $1250.

Rock Nation 10946 Ventura Blvd Studio City, CA 91604-3340 (818) 980-0018 Hours: Monday-Friday 2p.m.-8p.m., Saturdays from 10a.m.-6p.m
Metered parking on street.

The Rockaholics will be performing at Concert for a Cure on February 20 (1 – 4 pm) at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood. All proceeds will be divided equally and donated to Children’s Cancer Research and Women’s Breast Cancer Research. Tickets $20. For more information or tickets: Janice Kueppers (818) 487-7600 x154

Carole Rosner is a native Valley Girl who has lived in Studio City for the past 11 years. She is a strong supporter of her local public schools and an active volunteer in her neighborhood. Some of her favorite things to do in Studio City are to celebrate 4th of July at CBS Radford, walk along Ventura Blvd. and browse through the racks at Crossroads Trading Company.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.