On a recent Saturday, a group of kids and their parents crowded into a small hive of practice rooms in a newly converted warehouse on Douglass Street, in Brooklyn. They had come for the grand opening of a new location of School of Rock, the music-education franchise. The school has more than a hundred and thirty locations worldwide. Now, surprisingly or not, it was making its first foray into Brooklyn. The surrounding neighborhood, on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus—long known for its Superfund canal and a clutch of art studios—now features a Whole Foods, an organic diaper service, and a children’s robot-building workshop.
Owing to delayed permits and a harsh New York winter, construction on the school had only recently been completed, months behind the original schedule, and Mike Addesso, the twenty-nine-year-old owner of the local franchise, was standing amid the clamor, looking relieved and a little overwhelmed. Kids clustered around a snack table to get cookies, apple juice, and thick slices of a drum-set-shaped cake crowned with the School of Rock logo. One mother asked Addesso about guitar lessons for her daughter. “She’s five, but she’s a mature five,” she said.
The kids split off into group lessons. In one room, toddlers played with shakers and banged on tambourines, also branded with the School of Rock logo. In another, Boris Pelekh, one of the school’s new instructors, was coaxing a group of kids between the ages of eight and ten through a halting rendition of Bill Withers’s “Lean on Me.” “You’re doing good,” Pelekh said to Ella Dennison-Murray, who is eight. “Except you repeat the C at the end of the line.” Ella wore a knit cap and a pink hoodie and played a full-sized bass guitar that was taller than she. As the group made its way through a verse of the Withers tune, Addesso stood among the parents, nodding to the beat.
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