House of Rock keeps on rollin’
So you – or your kid – wants to be a rock ‘n’ and roll star.
Well, Daryl Hernandez has been helping students who are interested in answering that calling since June 2008 with his House of Rock program at the Fret House in Covina.
The program offers classes designed for students who already have some experience with instruments and want to learn how to play in a group or band, both on and off the stage.
“Kids are learning what they need to become performers, and what they need to become professionals as well,” Hernandez said.
A Covina resident, Hernandez knows all too well about being both student and a performing musician. He is completing a master’s degree in classical guitar performance at Cal State Fullerton and regularly performs with the local horror rock band Demonia. As director of House of Rock, he is responsible for providing students a wealth of instructional topics, including song format and structure, music styles, theory, performance and interpretation.
“Through learning song structure and format, (students) understand how songs work, and they can start to create their own,” Hernandez said.
He is hoping to add a composition section to the sessions in the future.
House of Rock is open to all ages, but current students are between 10 to 17 years old.
“We are always open to any age student who is looking to have the band experience,” Hernandez said.
Classes provide discipline, focus, socialization and other tools that students will need in higher education and throughout life.Hernandez also wants to help students decide what they want to do with their music knowledge.”My goal is to provide a consistent musical education throughout the school year for kids who are not in band or feel like they want something different,” Hernandez said.
Students are required to practice outside of class, and most also take private instruction to better hone their skills.
Since its establishment, Hernandez has updated House of Rock curriculum to include more learning opportunities for its students. Instead of just learning popular songs, each series is concentrated on a theme. The current session focuses on soul music and British rock bands, with an emphasis on Motown and The Who. The last session covered punk and funk with James Brown and the Clash. Next on stage will be Atlantic R&B and soul, such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, as well as classic British rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Animals.
Hernandez also invites guests to work with his students. Most recently, Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila and the Citrus College Pop Rock Ensemble made appearances. Citrus College plans to continue working with House of Rock for recruitment and experience.
Hernandez has enough returning students that he has been able to start creating individual bands within House of Rock, rather than just rotating players through one large group. Vocalists are required to learn all of the course material, so if necessary, they can step in with any band.
“As you stay in the program, you start to accumulate your set,” Hernandez said.
As bands acquire enough material, Hernandez also helps them book outside gigs. This has already happened for one grouping of Diamond Bar teens who perform as Jet Propulsion. In eight months, the teens have developed a 15-song repertoire and have been playing local venues.
House of Rock has performed at the House of Blues in Anaheim, farmers’ markets, carnivals and festivals. It also has a regular concert arrangement with Nick’s Taste of Texas in Covina.
Bianca Marrufo, 17, of Fontana, has been a vocalist in the House of Rock program for three sessions. She learned of the program from her sister, Danielle Marrufo, 14, who takes violin lessons at the Fret House and was interested in joining the program to play guitar. Danielle told Bianca that she would only participate if they could do it together, and Bianca agreed.
Marrufo has sung in the school choir in seventh and eighth grades, but has no other formal training.
“What I like is that you learn a lot of different kinds of music, not just rock, but blues and reggae,” said Marrufo, a senior at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora. “One thing I like is that we’ll learn a song, like a blues song, and after we learn it, we can give our own spin on it – bring our own style to it. It’s still a blues song, but it has a different feel.”
The House of Rock will perform two shows on Saturday. The first is an afternoon holiday concert at the Covina Center for the Performing Arts, which will include a Christmas medley with all of the students on stage in a “House of Rock Orchestra.”
In the evening the group will open for the Delgado Bros. at Nick’s Taste of Texas. They will return to Nick’s for a February show, and in June, perform on Catalina Island.
In July, Hernandez plans to offer a Chicano rock retrospective during his House of Rock sessions, covering music by artists from the ’50s forward, including Santana and Los Lobos.