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Get Ready to Rock: Music School Opens in Farmington

A ribbon cutting, open house and student performances highlight School of Rock's grand opening weekend March 9-11.

If your child wants to be a singer in a rock and roll band, a new Farmington business can help make those dreams come true. 

School of Rock has moved into commercial space on Orchard Lake Road, north of Grand River. Owner Dale Smigelski knows his new company inside and out – he started with the school as a student. 

"I wanted to play guitar all my life," the Commerce resident said, "and I finally got a guitar three or four years ago."

His search for a professional instructor took him to School of Rock in Rochester, where he took lessons and played with classmates every six weeks or so at venues in the area. Smigelski liked the concept so much, that when a franchise opportunity came up, he made his hobby his business. 

He said he decided to locate in Farmington because nothing like SOR was available in the area. Smigelski's staff includes general manager Sheri Fucinari, a Rochester SOR classmate, and music director Laura Mendoza. Offerings include a performance program, where students learn in weekly group sessions and perform at local venues, and Rock 101, where students learn guitar, bass, drums, keyboard and vocals and the dynamics of playing in a group, and perform for family and friends. 

While students enjoy the excitement of rock performance, they are also picking up music theory "when they're not looking," Fucinari said. "We teach kids in an uncommon way to love music. We teach them to rock." 

All teachers are expected to be professional musicians; they work with students ranging in age from 7 to 18, at all skill levels. Staff members meet with students and their parents to determine their readiness for classes. 

Fucinari said staff members select the music for the rock shows, and kids sign up for the shows they want to do. Parents are made aware from the beginning that School of Rock does not edit song lyrics much.

"We don't do songs for the shock value," she said. "We do take into consideration the ages of the kids."

Still, the highest priority, Fucinari said, is the music "because it's all rock and roll."

The will host a at School of Rock on Friday, March 9, at noon. The weekend's activities include a grand opening Saturday, March 10, 12 p.m.-3 p.m., with enrollment specials, performances by students from the Rochester and St. Clair Shores schools, and T-shirt giveaways, and an open house Sunday, March 11, from 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Correction: The caption on the photo in the original version of this story incorrectly identified Laura Mendoza and Sheri Fucinari.

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