With each step Alex Preston took up the ladder of American Idol, North Main Music School co-director Jeff Moore felt a swell of pride. Preston — at press time, one of three Idol finalists — studied with North Main vocal coach Sibvon Rose before going on the show. Last year, preteen heavy metalers Murp almost made the semifinals of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. The brother/sister duo also learned at the Nashua school.
But Moore doesn’t need to see his students on a national stage to feel a paternal excitement.
“I have to say it is a similar amount of pride as when I see one of my students get into college for music or anything like that,” he said by phone recently. “ A kid will work hard and whatever their goal is, it’s awesome to see them get there. It’s amazing to watch them grow.”
There’s a School of Rock vibe to North Main; founder Mike McAdam even looks a little like Jack Black. Like the how-to guide McAdam wrote, Absolute Beginner Guitar, students are guided toward songs that attracted them to music.
“In some schools you have to wait a year before you can learn what you came to learn,” Moore said. “Here, you can learn the basics and fundamentals, but do it through that stuff. When you’re having fun, we find the kids get so much more out of it.”
It’s not all kids, either.
“Students run the spectrum from adults that want to do it just for fun or have something to do on the side to relieve stress, but then there’s a large group and kids that come in and want to turn music into a large part of their career,” said Moore. “We try to open up the middle ground.”
On Sunday, May 18, at Tupelo Music Hall, some students will face an audience for the first time. Performers range in age from 4 to 60, but to Moore they’re all young at heart.
“It’s all about getting these kids out there and building their confidence and getting them to enjoy playing in front of a crowd,” he said. “We have so many talented students. You’ll have a duo of kids playing a hard rock song like ‘Crazy Train,’ followed by a singer songwriter … then students doing a modern song on the accordion.”
The daylong event is divided into four 90-minute sets, each anchored by a more experienced headliner, like teen band Light X, seen on the North Main YouTube channel doing a credible cover of Coldplay’s “Clocks.” Guitar Army is an evolving group of students covering everything from Frank Zappa jazz-rock to Iron Maiden. Nomad is the most mature of the bunch, a rock group composed of high school seniors.
Of course, this is a recital; much of the day will be devoted to performances like a preteen pickup band with two accordion players covering Imagine Dragons. The point is to get up on stage, said Moore.
“It sort of supercharges things, and kids get so into it … they start building towards creating their own music, putting their spin on it. Really, it’s incredible how many kids we have that are writing their own songs, recording and doing all this cool stuff.”
Moore joined North Main a couple of years ago, and he’s ebullient about his job.
“I say this with complete honesty — it’s a passion in my life to see these kids grow and to be part of their success. People say, ‘I have to go to work.’ I never say that, and I don’t sympathize when people say that, because I think of ‘going to work’ as playing music and doing all this cool stuff. It’s really awesome.”
As seen in the May 15, 2014 issue of the Hippo.