Gallery of Sound’s Joe Nardone opens Rockology music school in Wilkes-Barre
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — When Exeter resident Rich Stochla died in December 2015, a number of budding local guitarists lost their instructor; among them the son of Gallery of Sound Co-owner Joe Nardone Jr.
“I don’t really know what happened to all those students, but potentially there are people out there who are sort of without a teacher,” Nardone said.
The gap left by Stochla’s passing, along with Nardone’s desire to offer something beyond traditional lessons, inspired the businessman to create his own school of rock experience. In September he’ll open Joe Nardone’s Rockology, transforming an empty storefront in Wilkes-Barre Township’s East End Centre shopping complex into an academic arena for young people looking to further their musical development or take the first steps toward a career in the field.
Lessons will occur on a weekly basis in the eight fully-equipped practice rooms lining the right side of the space (and the drum room in the middle), while the large classroom in the back of the former retail location will host guest speakers, group sessions and in-house performances. Nardone plans to place price points at a level competitive with private lessons while offering students more than the mentor-learner experience.
“If somebody’s like, I want to be able to play in a band and I can’t find any kids in my school to get a band together with,’ you can come here and hopefully find like-minded individuals,” Nardone said. “We have guys who write music who can help with that, we’ll have a vocal coach. All the aspects of trying to ‘make it’ to give everybody an extra shove to get their music careers going and give it a try.”
Rockology is being designed as an after school option for area students, but Nardone also plans to offer full band classes on weekends so young musicians can learn to play with others as a unit. Along with the core curriculum, the school will feature a program for children 7 and younger designed to introduce them to rock ‘n’ roll music.
“I’ve seen it done with Grateful Dead and with different kind of stuff,” Nardone said. “That’s going to be more like appreciation of music, the kind of thing where parents come in with the kids to do some elementary (things).”
East End Centre Property Manager Liana Kissinger, who worked with Nardone in the past at Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville, said she was excited about the project when the record store owner proposed it.
“We though it was very unique, very interesting,” Kissinger said. “We love bringing new and exciting, different kind of uses (of retail space) that people can really grab a hold of.”
Nardone hopes to form a working relationship with another arts-focused East End Centre tenant, KISS Theatre Company, for future student showcase concerts. KISS Theatre Artistic Director Jessica Suda hopes their relationship will be mutually beneficial.
“I think when we got word of it our ideas just started igniting,” Suda said. “There’s a production that I’ve been eyeing up, but it’s very hard to do because you need kids who can play rock ‘n’ roll, so it’d be interesting to see if we can collaborate on a project like that.”
The facility plans to hold open houses starting mid-August. For more information call Gallery of Sound at 570-829-3603, sign up for email updates at rockology.info or email [email protected].
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts