This school rocks

LIHUE — When Jeremy Hartshorn’s bus broke down on the side of the road, he couldn’t help but remember his favorite movie.

Not that he ever really forgot about “School of Rock,” the Jack Black comedy where Black’s character poses as a substitute teacher to form a band with kids, but if ever those scenes replayed in his head it was then, stranded four months ago in a van that went kaput.

“I kinda realized, you know what, now’s the time,” Jeremy recollected recently.

It was time, he thought then, to abandon the van and pursue his dream.

Not that it was any old van — far from it.

It was the Bandwagon Music Studios, a fully equipped mobile music studio that Jeremy drove to peoples’ homes as he taught lessons. It gave easy access to instruments for kids, and it was enlivening to watch them light up once they gravitated toward a favorite one and played it with others.

But Jeremy’s dream was to open his own School of Rock — a place where kids, or anyone for that matter, could learn a number of instruments and practice for hours with others. Heck, even form a band. A place like the one Black’s character opens up at the feel-good end of the 2003 comedy.

“Breakdowns were always an issue with the Bandwagon,” Jeremy said. “We thought it would be really nice to have a studio that wouldn’t break down.”

Four months later — the wagon’s still waiting to get fixed, by the way — Jeremy and his wife Julie Hartshorn ditched the wheels and opened up Bandwagon Studios in Lihue. The bonafide office space at 3-3100 Kuhio Highway Unit c-12 has been converted into a music school where instructors will teach five instruments and plenty of space and equipment to form bands and jam in their own private studio.

Besides the movie, Jeremy, a worship pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship, was motivated by his Rock U weekends he hosted at his church. There, the couple saw kids come alive, jam, try new instruments and teach one another. It took the old fashioned one-on-one music lesson and smashed it worse than a guitar on stage.

“We wanted to create that environment but everyday after school,” Jeremy said. “We’re trying to get away from that sort of solitary, learning in a vacuum-type deal, and make it more of a social, collaborative, musical situation.”

The music studio will focus on teaching keyboard, guitar, drums, ukulele and bass. Everything is electronic and controlled through headphones, so kids who jam in a breakout room won’t distract other lessons going on. Hours for 8- to 17-year-olds will run from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. And the kids will earn colored bars, kind of like belts in karate, to show the level of mastery they’ve achieved for each instrument. Membership will cost $120 a month — $30 a week, which is about the cost of one half-hour lesson back in old school days.

Kids can come as often and stay as long as they want during that block. All age lessons start at 6 p.m. The center will accommodate private lessons as well as more specialized types of music upon reservation. Those costs will vary, as will those who want to make and master their own album with the software on site.

But a big goal is to give kids options.

“Everybody is drawn to something different, that’s cool thing about having all the instruments available for the kids,” Julie said. “Nobody is going to go buy their kid a drum set unless they know they’re super into it. Well, how do you know if they’re super into it?”

Sherry Dire’s kids are an example of that. Sherry, who visited the center’s soft opening last week, signed her kids up even though “they’ve never touched an instrument before.”

“To be able to come here and check all the instruments out, that’s great,” she said. “Because they have no idea what they’d like.”

And Keri Silva is a success story. Training with Jeremy, her latest album, “One and Only,” was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano award.

“I’ve learned that it takes hard work and time,” she said of the discipline she’s learned trying to prefect her craft.

The other goals are to give the kids time and space to practice. It takes about five minutes to teach a lesson. The key is letting kids exercise the trick once it’s explained.

While the stationary studio is open, it doesn’t mean the mobile Bandwagon is retired. The couple still fancies the idea of repairing it and continuing mobile lessons for people who just can’t make it into Lihue. But for now, the focus is on the school, one Jeremy — who was driving a school bus in Costa Mesa, California, when School of Rock hit theaters — fancies is better than the one the film shows during its ending credits.

“I’d take this over the one in the movie,” Jeremy said. “I’d say we’ve surpassed that dream.”

A dream started by a film and spurred on by a broken down rig.

“We took the long road,” Jeremy said. “No pun intended. Or, well, maybe intended.”

Info: 634-4040,


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.