Dear Rock U. rockers, parents, friends, fans, and families:

In the immortal words of rock and roll prophet Neil Young:

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die

Once again, we miss you all!  And once again we send our hopes that you and your loved ones are in good health and comfortable during this period of confinement.

Three weeks ago, I contacted you to let you know how we planned to keep the spirit of rock and roll alive for our Rock U. community.  We told you that we would keep bands and lessons going online until the confinement came to an end, which we hoped would be mid-April.  Then we’d hit the ground running with no time lost once that day arrived.  Now, of course, we know that we will have to wait out confinement until at least mid-May, and that it seems increasingly unlikely that we’ll be able to stage any concerts for a very long time.

Don’t worry.  We got this.

In the past weeks, as we’ve figured out how to keep things going online, we’ve made, learned, and discovered some amazing things together.  Many of our bands are on the verge of releasing their first made-at-home music videos.  Others are writing original songs.  Still others are learning advanced recording and mixing techniques.  Others are exploring new sounds, resources, and a deeper understanding of how music is made.  And all of them have learned and progressed on both new and familiar musical and creative paths.  We are committed to continuing that, and it’s only going to get easier and better every day.

So what happens next?

Kids’ and teen bands

  • All Rock U. bands will continue to meet online at their usual meeting times (or at an alternate time if agreed on by the band and instructor) to carry out these musical projects.  Videos, recordings, and other creations will be shared on Rock U.’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, and our new SoundCloud platform for audio recordings.
  • As soon as we’re permitted to reopen the Rock U. studio, we’ll resume in-person band practices, observing all appropriate precautions as instructed by public health authorities.
  • In the event that we’re unable to hold a concert at the end of the Spring Session, we’ll perform the songs we learn by livestream from the Rock U. studio, and as video and audio projects on our social media channels.  We may even hold a live viewing party (like a Film Festival!  Traptin Quarantino presents… get it?) with the capacity for thousands of people worldwide to view the videos and other content we create, hosted by our students.

Adult bands

  • Adult band teachers will be in touch with their bands to discuss goals and plans for the period until the confinement is lifted, with the goal of resuming activities online next week, and extending the term to make up for the weeks we’ve missed.  We realize that, just like with our youth bands, each band will have its own set of circumstances, and there is no one right way to go forward that will work for everyone.  We intend to do everything we can to deliver a rich, rewarding musical performance experience, as much as circumstances possibly allow.
  • As soon as we’re permitted to do so, adult band practices will also resume at Rock U. and Studio Bleu, with the same performance options as the youth bands.

Private lessons

  • Most Rock U. private lessons have already resumed online.  Any student who was already taking lessons will have the opportunity to continue, if they have not already done so.  We do have some limited availability for new students who would like to start private lessons – now’s a great time to learn!

For everyone

  • We will continue to offer free online content via Facebook and YouTube.  Check out the YouTube playlist of our daily videos.  We’ll be coming out next week with a revised schedule for this, featuring some new activities, lessons, quizzes, and even prizes
  • We’ve successfully introduced some new online courses this week, and will continue to bring you new special online offerings as the weeks of confinement continue.

Payment information
As you know, we have not yet requested any payment for the Spring Session of our youth bands.  All band members have been welcome to continue participating in our online sessions with no payment due.  As we said three weeks ago, there were too many unknowns.

Now we know more.  At best, we will reopen the Rock U. studio fully on Monday 11 May and have our spring Rock U. En Seine festival as scheduled on 14, 20, and 21 June.  At worst, it’s possible that we won’t be able to reopen at all this spring, or hold a public concert, in which case we will complete the Spring Session online, and the bands will share their performances via livestreams and releases on our social media channels.  The reality is likely to be somewhere between these extremes.

We realize this isn’t what anyone expected out of this very promising spring, but we’re all in the same situation.  We remain committed to helping our rockers learn and progress musically, creatively, socially, and in all the other ways you have come to value from the Rock U. experience.  Our teachers are working harder than ever to make this happen, even while faced with a steeping learning curve of new challenges, technologies and skills.  We hope you’ll all continue to rock with us.

Rock U. is a non-profit Association loi 1901, and all of our teachers and staff are independent contractors.  Your participation and support is critical to our efforts to sustain this wonderful community.  We can’t do it without you.  We’ll be sending invoices for the Spring Session of our youth bands and private lessons, plus the long-overdue invoices for Semester 2 of our adult bands, starting next week.  Yes, I know I told you that three weeks ago.  But I hate asking for money in the best of times, and even though I said I would send the invoices and many of you were extremely supportive in response, I couldn’t bring myself to do it with so much still uncertain.  (Also, I just don’t like making the invoices.  Making music is more fun.)

If you decide this experience won’t meet your needs, we understand.  In that case, you can just pay for the lessons or adult band sessions you’ve already had (youth bands have been open for no charge up until now), and we would welcome you back in the future when we can return to our normal (or new normal) operations.

If you have any questions, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me at matt@rock-u.fr.

Take us out, Neil:

My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay

See you online soon, rockin’ and rollin’!
Stay chill, hang tough, make music,
Matt and the Rock U. Crew

One-on-one songwriting coaching sessions by appointment.  Have you always wanted to write your own song, or have you started one many times but could never finish?  Get your creative juices flowing in this one-on-one online session, which will provide you some creative techniques to help you beat those quarantine blues and write a rockin’ song!

  • What you need: A Zoom account (access to a guitar or piano recommended but not necessary)
  • Dates and times: By appointment with Jason
  • Fee: 50€ for a single session of one hour; 240€ for an intensive course of five hours over one week
  • All ages
Sign up here!

Jason Waters is a New York City native with over 15 years of international experience in music teaching, performance and songwriting. He has recorded with renowned musicians like Steve Holley (Paul McCartney) and Angela Workman (Ray Charles), and has developed and facilitated music programs for youth, refugees and divided communities in regional conflict zones. Jason knows that music can serve as a powerful means for building empathy and bringing communities together.  He can teach the workshop in English or French.

Time to create!  Please email matt@rock-u.fr with any questions.  

Why did Beatles guitarist George Harrison always travel with two ukuleles?  So he could play music with anyone he met, even if they had never played before!  Ukuleles are easy to play, sound great, and are inexpensive, small, and lightweight compared to guitars.

Become part of the Rock U. ukulele nation by learning how to play some of your favourite songs on your uke, with Rock U. teacher James Dempsey!  Rock U. is pleased to offer a new online ukulele workshop during the two weeks of school holidays.  Absolute beginners are welcome, but more advanced players will also learn a lot.

  • What you need: A ukulele and a Zoom account
  • Dates and times: Every day 6-10 April or 13-17 April, 12h-13h (participants are welcome to do one or both weeks)
  • Fee: 95€ per week
  • Maximum of 8 participants
  • Ages 10 and up
Sign up here!
Let’s rock… with ukuleles!  Please email matt@rock-u.fr with any questions.  For participants who don’t own a ukulele, they are widely available on Amazon or at www.thomann.de, and good quality ukuleles cost as little as 35-40€.

Dear Rock U. rockers, parents, friends, fans, and families:

We miss you!  And we send our hopes that you’re in good health and comfortable during this period of confinement.  Our deepest sympathies to all of you who are feeling ill or anxious, or who are dealing with loss.  It seems like a cliché to say we’re all in this together, but it’s true.

Here at Rock U., today was supposed to be the first day of our 2020 Spring Session.  We were pumped to enjoy a great Winter Concert at La Boule Noire last Sunday, and to spend this week sharing videos and photos and reliving our memories of the show, before starting up band practices again today and next week.

Well, as Mick and Keef famously said, “You can’t always get what you want.”

But don’t forget the next line: if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

So we’re here to announce that, starting now, we’ll be bringing Rock U. to you online until we can get back into the studio.  Many of you are currently involved in distance learning at school, but unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to play music together online.  Even the shortest latency (“lag”) times in internet connections result in musicians playing as much as a full beat off from each other, meaning it’s not possible to play together in time, something that’s hard enough to do already.  But there are a lot of other ways we can learn, progress, and have fun during this time, and we want to get back to rocking right away.

So, here’s what we’re gonna do.

Starting next week (or possibly even sooner for some of our Friday and Saturday bands), we will be resuming weekly band session for ALL of our youth and teen bands.  These will be conducted on Zoom, which works on all devices and platforms and is available for free download at https://zoom.us/

We realize each band will be different.  Some students may not have the right instruments at home.  Others may have more technical proficiency and independence than others.  But we’re committed to maintaining some continuity and fun for each band by at least conducting a face-to-face session each week.  Some may use this time to choose their songs for the next show, assign roles for the songs, play some musical quiz games, and learn some basic music theory tips.  Others may undertake more ambitious projects, such as making and sharing recordings of the songs they had learned for the Winter Concert, writing an original song, or other creative projects.  It may even be possible for some bands and students to begin instruction on their spring songs through short breakout sessions within the band chat so we can hit the ground running once Rock U. reopens.  And of course we can all share cookie breaks (BYOB = Bring Your Own Biscuits), a cherished Rock U. tradition. We’ve already tested out this meeting format with a few of our Rock U. bands this week, and it’s worked surprisingly well.

Our two main goals for the Spring Session will be to:

  • provide a way for the bands to perform the songs they had already learned for the Winter Concert (this could include some kind of live performances during the spring, video performances, or open band rehearsals for parents and siblings)
  • carry out as close as we can to a full spring semester of live practices once our studio can reopen (in addition to the online learning we’re offering now, this could include moving the June concert to a later date or finding ways to add additional practice time)

Here are some questions you might have:

What do I need to do for my child to take part? 
For those of you who are parents of our younger students, we’ll need you to facilitate the online meeting process for your rocker.  Please download Zoom on an appropriate device and provide a space for your rocker to participate in the online band session.  You will hear from your child’s band teacher before the meeting with a Zoom meeting ID or URL which will allow your child to join.  Make sure your child has any available musical instruments handy, and microphone-enabled earphones are a good idea if you have them.  And cookies.

For our teen students, most of you already have WhatsApp chat groups with your band and teacher.  Make sure you check these regularly for updates about your band’s plans.

How do I get in touch with my (or my child’s) band teacher? 
Here you go:
Matt Black: 06 19 69 25 74 matt@rock-u.fr
Rory Quinn: 06 59 99 51 63 rqdrums@gmail.com
Leander Lyons: 06 73 54 25 78 leandelan@gmail.com
James Dempsey: 06 98 20 04 40 jamesdempsey87@gmail.com
Jason Waters: 07 67 78 88 16 music.jasonwaters@gmail.com

When will the Rock U. studio reopen and what happens then?
None of us knows exactly what the future will hold, but we hope to be able to open our doors again to regular activity sometime by the end of April or beginning of May.  However, this is only a best guess.  Once we know more about the schedule for the resumption of activities, as well as any changes to the school year calendar and the availability of our performance venues, we will get back to you with more information.  We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding until then.

How much do I owe for the Spring Session? 
At this time, we’re not requiring any payment for the Spring Session.  We realize there are too many unknowns, and many of you may be dealing with financial uncertainties of your own as a result of the current situation.  We want to keep your rockers moving forward on their musical and social journeys with their bands despite this.

However, as you’re probably aware, Rock U. is a non-profit Association loi 1901.  We don’t collect more revenues than our projected expenses, and we don’t keep cash reserves on hand in the same way that a for-profit company might have.  Furthermore, all of our teachers and staff are independent contractors, for whom the level of relief expected from the government is lower and less certain than for salaried employees – in fact, many of us don’t qualify for any relief at all, as it’s currently been proposed.  Our teachers will be paid for the work they do during this time, so they can continue to make a living, feed their families, and pay their expenses.

So what are we asking of you?  As we said, we do expect eventually to be able to deliver nearly the full Spring Session of live practices, in addition to perhaps a full month or more of online activities before that.  We’ll be sending invoices for the Spring Session next week.  If you value what we do, and your circumstances allow you to support Rock U. through this difficult time by prepaying for the Spring Session, we will gratefully welcome any payments made now, partial or in full. If for some reason we’re not able to resume normal activities as we expect, you’ll be refunded or credited for any unused payments.

I’d rather not pay anything now, what does that mean for my child’s participation?
That’s okay.  Your child will NOT lose his or her place in the band for the Spring Session, and may still participate in our online activities until we reopen.  Payment will be due once we can get back in the studio.

Will activities stop during the April school holiday?
Nope.  You probably can’t go anywhere anyway, and neither can we, so we’ll use the extra two weeks to rock more.

Are you offering anything else to help students keep learning music for now?
Yes!  Starting next week, we’ll be posting daily free rock and roll content on our YouTube channel and Facebook page.  We’ll be sharing simple tips in our new One Minute Master Class series, more advanced Pro Tips for expert players, as well as features on how to play famous riffs, bits of music trivia and theory, artist appreciation, tours of the Rock U. teachers’ home practice spaces, and recommendations on online resources for rockers.  Like and subscribe to be notified as each new day’s post goes up.

We’ll also be offering some new online courses during this time, with different teachers providing personalized instruction in small online classes and some social and fun group activities as well.  Stay tuned for more information on these courses coming very soon.

And as our private lesson students already know, we’re continuing with online lessons during this period of closure.  If you want to start taking private lessons with one of our instructors via Zoom or Skype, now is an excellent time to begin.  You can sign up for private lessons here: https://forms.gle/C6n2pmQWcReGF5C99

We know this isn’t how any of us expected to be spending our time this month.  The irony of this situation is that togetherness and music are two things that could be really helpful to most of us during this period of isolation and uncertainty, and they’re two things we can’t have, at least not the way we’re used to.  Rock U. is built on the joy of sharing music together in the same physical space and in front of an audience, and that’s been taken away from all of us temporarily.  But we’re going to find ways to keep your musical journey moving forward, one little step at a time.

See you online soon, rockin’ and rollin’!

Stay chill, hang tough, make music,
Matt and the Rock U. Crew

We received new communications this afternoon from the Mairie de Paris and have again been in contact with the Santé Publique.  The Mairie has now instructed Associations in Paris to temporarily suspend all extrascholastic activities and all non-essential group activities beginning on Monday 16 March, even those involving very small groups.  Rock U. will remain open on Saturday 14 March for bands and private lessons.  We will then temporarily suspend all of our kids and teen bands, adult bands, and private lessons until further notice, starting on Monday 16 March. 

We will remain in consultation with public health and municipal authorities during this period of closure.  If it’s at all possible, we hope to reopen in time to begin our Spring Session on schedule on Friday 27 March.  We will update you as soon as any new information is available.

La Boule Noire, our wonderful concert venue, has also temporarily closed, and our Winter Concert for kids and teen bands on Sunday 22 March will be cancelled.  It really saddens us to deliver this news, as we can’t remember a Rock U. session when so many bands were absolutely crushing it in the studio.  We’re so sorry that they won’t have the opportunity to play onstage on 22 March and show the world what they can do.  We will consider every possible way to give these amazing kids another chance to perform when circumstances once again allow.

Clearly these events may necessitate other changes to our calendar for the academic year.  It is our goal to do whatever we can to minimize the disruption these events are causing to your musical life as we consider all the options, and we welcome both your input and your patience as we figure this out together.

If you take private lessons at Rock U., you may able to continue these lessons remotely via Skype or Zoom.  Please contact your lesson teacher directly to discuss whether this could work for you.

For the third time in 24 hours, we have the opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate your patience and understanding.  Many of you have expressed to us how much it means to be a part of this musical community, and it means very much to us that you’re part of it, too.  We also want to say how sorry we are that we’re not able to stay open during a time when good fellowship and musical inspiration are sure to be things we’ll all need more of in our daily lives.  We eagerly look forward to resuming this as soon as possible.  And while you’re stuck at home, pick up an instrument… and play some music!

Dear Rock U. participants and parents,

First off, we want to express our hopes that you are all doing well amidst the current climate of tension and uncertainty.  Music is a powerful mood adjuster, so apply it abundantly!  And of course we hope you are all in the best of health.

We wanted to let you know a bit about the status of Rock U. activities and our planning for whatever may come.

Bands and lessons:  Rock U. Bands and lessons will continue as normal until further notice, or until the situation changes.  We have been in direct contact with both the Mairie du 7ème and the Santé Publique, who have reaffirmed the guidelines listed below:

  • Due to our small group sizes, participation in Rock U. bands or lessons doesn’t pose any particular risk over any other activity.
  • Please exercise the same common-sense precautions you would before engaging in any similar activity, such as work or school.  Wash your hands frequently.  If your child is sick (or if you are), please keep him or her home (or stay home yourself).  If you’ve been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, or have traveled to one of the regions subject to travel limitations, please follow the appropriate guidelines.  If you have a medical condition that might make you vulnerable to COVID-19, seek the advice of your doctor before participating in any public activities.
  • As always, we will continue to have the kids wash their hands before touching any of the instruments, and use disinfectant wipes in the band room to clean microphones. We will also be regularly wiping down shared objects like doorknobs and drumsticks after each use.
  • To date, Paris schools remain open. We have been advised by the Santé Publique that a closure of the public schools would not necessarily apply to Rock U. bands and lessons.  However, in the event that schools do close, we will continue to seek expert advice and act accordingly.

Rock U. concert 22 March:  You may be aware that large public gatherings such as concerts have been restricted in many affected regions, and that some restrictions already apply in France.   Again, we have been directly in touch with health authorities and the venue to monitor the situation, and for the moment, smaller concert venues like La Boule Noire remain open.  If nothing changes, the Rock U. concert will take place as scheduled next Sunday 22 March.

  • As with Rock U. bands, please apply the same common sense you would to a similar activity. Please don’t attend the concert if you’re sick or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.  The concert will be livestreamed as usual, so you can watch from home!
  • If your child is unable to attend the show, or would prefer not to participate, we understand. Our talented staff and assistants are there to accompany the bands if kids are missing, so your child shouldn’t feel any pressure to avoid letting down his or her band.
  • You can stay up to date on any information about the concert on the event page here.

A final note:  We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we all navigate some unfamiliar territory.  There is a lot of information floating around out there, some of it inaccurate, and it makes sense for all of us to apply moderation and common sense in both our information gathering and our information sharing.  We at Rock U. will continue to follow the situation closely, consult appropriate health authorities, and follow the official guidelines and rules provided.  We will of course inform you of any meaningful changes to the status of our programs.

And now… let’s get back to rocking!  Stay healthy and make music!

Rock U. Student Bands in Concert!

Please join us at historic Paris music venue La Boule Noire on 22 March for our 2020 Winter Concert!  As always, admission is free and all are welcome.

*14h-20h, doors open at 13h30
*Eighteen student bands
*Hits by Michael Jackson, The Eagles, Black Sabbath, Radiohead, Tame Impala, 5 Seconds of Summer, The Strokes, John Mayer, Coldplay, Marshmello, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elton John, and many more!

Join us for this school holiday rock music program!  If you already play an instrument or sing, or if you’ve always wanted to try drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and more, this program is for you.  You and your band will learn songs throughout the week, explore different music styles and instruments, and record your final performance!  All ability levels and all instruments welcome.

  • Two sessions: Feb 10-14 and 17-21
  • Two bands per session: 11h-12h30 (ages 8-11) and 13h30-15h (ages 12-15)
  • 195€ per week

Sign up here!  For more information, email matt@rock-u.fr.

Come check out our ten great adult bands at Belushi’s Gare du Nord on 2 Feb!  Doors open to all at 15h15, show starts at 15h30. Belushi’s is a great place to hang out on a Sunday, with great bar food and a family-friendly rock’n’roll atmosphere.  Concert is free and open to all!  More info here.
Adult band Semester 2 starts 24 Feb, come join the fun!  Some bands still have room, sign up here.  More info here.

What do these bands have in common?

All of the photos above were taken on the stage of legendary Paris concert venue La Boule Noire.  Each of these amazing bands, and many more – including Queens of the Stone Age, Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, Linkin Park, Pavement, The Libertines, The Dandy Warhols, Two Door Cinema Club, and Coeur de Pirate, just to name a few – have performed here.  And now, on 15 December, the bands of Rock U. will step onto the same stage and become part of rock history!

Please join us at La Boule Noire on 15 December for our 2019 Fall Concert!  As always, admission is free and all are welcome.

*14h-20h, doors open at 13h30
*Seventeen student bands
*Hits by Queen, The Clash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Daniel Caesar, AC/DC, Muse, Beastie Boys, Imagine Dragons, Blur, U2, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Maroon 5, Boney M., The Cure, Aerosmith, Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, and many more!