The bands student musicians join — Part 1: Rock Band

RockBandWebBy Allison Eatough

The more music a student is exposed to the better.

At least, that's what Amy Cohn believes. As coordinator of music for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Cohn says music serves a valuable role in students' lives.

"It's inspiring and empowers a person to get in touch with their emotions," Cohn says. "Music possesses its own language and grammar system and can communicate meaning without the benefit of words."

Most public and private schools begin offering some form of music instruction by kindergarten. From there, the opportunities grow. In local public schools students can start band instrument instruction as early as third grade and venture into learning how to play strings instruments in middle school. High school brings even more options for joining various bands and orchestras, and music schools abound in our area to teach kids to toot their own horns.

The options for blossoming musicians these days are plentiful. This is the beginning of a series of different beats that local students have taken to be part of a band. First off, a student in a rock band.


RockBand2Gabe Quinones – Member of a rock band

Gabe Quinones is well on his way to becoming a rock star.

He plays the electric guitar and is in a band. He hit the road this summer as part of The School of Rock AllStars tour and, he has rock star hair.

Quinones, 15, whose thick, wavy hair resembles that of 1980s rock-n-roll legends, is a sophomore at Broadneck High School in Arnold. He began playing the guitar three years ago after asking his grandfather, Gonzalo Quinones, to teach him.

"I picked it up pretty quickly," Quinones says. "Within the first week, I knew about three songs... The Beatles 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'Help.' And then 'Stray Cat Strut.'"

Last year, Quinones continued his studies at the School of Rock, a private music school in Arnold that teaches guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards and drums through weekly lessons and group band rehearsals. Since then, he has performed at several School of Rock shows around Annapolis.

"I'm a big ham on stage," Quinones says. "I enjoy it. The way an electric guitar can make people go, 'Wow,' just fascinates me."

Quinones also writes songs and plays in a rock band called "Aim to Please" with fellow School of Rock students Blake Wilson and Jack Rogers. The crew practices every weekend at Rogers' house.

"It's so much fun, especially when you have good musicians behind you," he says. "It's so much fun to have the music come to life."

But this summer, Quinones temporarily left his band to join a bigger one – the School of Rock AllStars. According to the school's website, the most talented musicians are selected as AllStars so they can "get a taste" for what a professional career in music is like.

For three weeks, Quinones was scheduled to tour along the East Coast. Tour stops included the 18th annual Gathering of the Vibes festival in Bridgeport, Conn., where Quinones was to perform along with national acts like The Black Crowes, The Roots and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Before he left, Quinones said he was looking forward to traveling on the tour bus and meeting other musicians. He also hoped the experience would open new doors for him.

"I don't really see myself doing anything else," he says. "Become a rock star. That's my goal."

Photos by Caroline Phillips