Guitars, keyboards, drums and vocals will soon shred through midtown Gainesville when Let There Be Rock Schools moves into its new spot on Main Street.
The rock music school plans to kick things off with open houses in the coming weekends and plans to hold its grand opening on St. Patrick’s Day weekend in mid-March.
“I don’t know what to expect,” said Kyle Sanders, owner of the school. “Everybody I’ve talked to — of course the kids are excited, but even the parents — are like, ‘That's awesome.’ They’re excited about it.”
Sanders walked through the building at 840 Main St. SW, surrounded by black, blue and red walls that had been freshly painted, pointing out every room — each with a specific purpose — as a playlist of classic oldies like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” played through a Bluetooth speaker. The building had once served as a DUI school, but will now introduce kids and adults to music.
Altogether, there are nine rooms. Seven of those rooms will be for private lessons and band rehearsals. One room will be a dedicated game room, fit with a foosball table, and another room will be filled with music equipment for purchase and have its walls covered with local art.
There will be a waiting area up front with chairs and bean bags, too.
“Plus, that whole parking lot is ours,” Sanders said, standing outside the building pointing out the different places he hopes to have bands perform. “So in spring and summer we can do a bunch of events.”
Sanders had been a part of the band Hellyeah for years when he finally knew it was time to start the music school he’d been dreaming about.
But it took a disaster to launch him on the path to Gainesville: The death of his good friend and bandmate.
Vincent Paul Abbott, a well-known figure in heavy-metal circles who went by the name Vinnie Paul, had been the drummer for Hellyeah since 2006. He started out his career as the drummer of the band Pantera and then Damageplan, both of which he formed with his brother, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. After his brother was shot to death in 2004, Paul took a break from playing but started back up with Hellyeah in 2006.
But in June 2018, Paul died from cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart, with coronary artery disease being identified as a significant condition in his death.
“It was just heavy,” Sanders said standing in the lobby of the music school. “It was awful. And dealing with that, everything was put on hold because we weren't sure what was going to happen. Everyone was dealing with it in their own ways and then a light just went off. I was talking to a friend and I was like, ‘This is the time to start this.’”
Hellyeah took a break, and Sanders set his sights on Gainesville.
Now living in Oakwood, he started looking around for buildings in Hall County that would work for his vision of his rock school. He said he’d never ventured into the midtown area but liked the “vibe” and thought a music school would fit in well. He said the area “feels like it’s where we need to be.”
He bought the building on Main Street and started making it his own on Feb. 1.
“It’s up-and-coming,” Sanders said of midtown. “I like everything that's happening and people are coming together.”
He’s already hired some instructors. One of his main requirements is they must be actively involved in the music scene.
“That's the whole selling point of it because it would be a place run by active musicians, who’ve been in the business forever,” Sanders said “You don’t have to be full-time, because I know it’s almost impossible to make a living, but you have to be in it.”
Ted Tuck, however, has been able to make a living out of it. He’ll be one of the instructors at the new music school and has been doing it for most of his life.
He started playing guitar when he was 8 years old and began giving lessons when he was 18. He owned Ted’s Pro Music in Gainesville, which had a large music lesson program.
“That’s how I know this is something that people are going to be interested in,” said Tuck, 50.
As someone who has dedicated his entire life to music, Tuck wants to see music programs in the area grow. He said the schools do a good job, but it’s important to continue those things outside the classroom, too.
Teaching is something he’s grown to love and is happy to see it growing in Gainesville.
“I love to see the light bulb come on when you’re teaching music,” Tuck said. “It’s really rewarding to see somebody finally get it.”
Sanders said he’s imagining the target age for the music school will be middle school and high school students. But he’s not putting a limit on it. Anyone of any age can take classes.
His hope is to form bands through the music school and have them perform at different places throughout the community. He hopes to partner with schools, too, since that’s the age he got his start.
Dylan Miller remembers when he started getting serious about music. He’s played the drums for as long as he can remember — his mother got a drum set as a gift at his baby shower when she was pregnant — but picked up guitar when he was 12. When he got to high school, he learned to play bass guitar, piano and even joined a choir.
Since then, he’s continued playing music and singing with the University of North Georgia’s choir and the community choir at Brenau University.
“I like teaching a lot,” Miller, 24, said. “Learning is the best part about playing an instrument. And especially when you first start learning, it’s all new and exciting. It’s a really unique and cool experience and I like being able to share that.”
Now, as one of the younger instructors at the music school, Miller will be able to help teach kids that are in the same stage he was when he started learning to play.
Sanders got his start in music around that same age. He was in middle school, teaching himself how to play the bass guitar by playing along to records of his favorite bands.
“I had a decent ear I guess,” Sanders said. “I just started learning stuff that I was interested in.”
He played sports alongside music as his love for music grew. When he got to high school, he dropped sports and decided to “do nothing but music.”
He saw the lack of options for students interested in music from the start.
There was nothing other than band at school for him to choose. That’s part of the reason he wanted to start a music school: Sanders wanted to offer students an opportunity he felt like he didn’t have.
“It seems like the further from the city you go, and you want to play in a band, you just feel like there's nobody like you,” Sanders said. “Until there’s a place like this where everybody can come. And you'd never meet these people unless you’re at a place like this. That’s what I’m hoping for. Everybody can fit in. No matter what you’re into.”
As a result, you don’t have to pick up the bass, guitar or drums to take lessons at the new school. Get a ukulele as a gift? Been thinking about a banjo? Sanders said they’ll make it happen.
He’s happy to be filling a need he saw in the community and said he’s ready to see what his dream turns into.
“As long as you can pick up an instrument ... you can start learning to play,” Sanders said.