School of Rock San Rafael - Marin Music School for Kids

Here in Marin County, we are so lucky to have incredible organizations that help shape this growing community for the better. One face behind this community service is deserving of the spotlight: Heather Riley, owner and general manager of School of Rock San Rafael, opening in late February.

School of Rock is a performance-based music school that focuses on five key instruments: bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Their main programs combine weekly one-on-one lessons and group band rehearsals rounding out a great music education in a fun and nurturing environment. And let’s not forget that these students put on live shows at real Rock venues throughout the year!

When Heather was pulled in to help get neighboring School of Rock Santa Rosa up and running in 2018 she immediately felt fortunate to be involved. With about 250 School of Rock’s in the U.S. (300 plus globally), it was clear that this project was successfully changing communities and the lives of the kids involved. “They brought me in for my business administrative experience,” Heather said. “I turned down a very safe job, if you like, with Sonoma County to do this as it sounded much more exciting and challenging. And indeed it was! In doing so, I discovered that music was way more important to me than I realized.” Heather knew that she had always loved music, but her experience was heightened by combining the musical element with taking care of people.
“The upshot is that we teach kids to play music, we teach adults to play music, and we teach them to play music with each other,” Heather said. “With that comes a tremendous boost in confidence. And bigger than that, you get this local tribe and community that develops as a school - which has a real impact.”


Right now, Heather is noticing that this kind of community is what people are really craving. “They wake up and they’re really feeling it,” Heather said. Now two years into this pandemic, it’s never been more important to foster creative communities such as this one.


All School of Rocks stayed open, teaching remotely when needed, throughout these trying times, and remote lessons will be available when requested or required after the school here in San Rafael opens. With the school build-out almost finished, Heather is looking forward to seeing the students gathered and connected, making music and new friends.

“The building that we have is just the most fantastic location,” Heather said. “It’s freestanding and right off the freeway less than a mile from the Civic Center, so that everyone in Marin County can get there. And that’s really important to note, that though this is School of Rock San Rafael, it’s for everyone in Marin County.”

Leading up to the opening, there are plenty of students that will get to see the brand-new facilities. “We should be open, all being well, mid-to-late February,” Heather explained. “So far, probably 350 new families have reached out to me and already signed up for free trial lessons. That’s how we always start out: With a free trial lesson and a tour of the school. This way, we can assess students and place them in the program that suits them best.”

And students of all ages are welcome! They have group classes for kids as young as four years old. And exactly what they do for the kids, they also do for adults. “One thing that tends to happen is adults will walk in and go, ‘I wish I had this when I was a kid,’ Heather said. And we say, ‘Well you do now!’ So whether somebody’s played before and could be quite handy in the garage, or they’re a complete beginner, School of Rock has got a spot for them - no matter what their age.

“We are going to be a place where there is one common factor uniting everything: Music. It’s a happy and inspiring place to be,” Heather said. “We’re also the place for kids that don’t necessarily find their home elsewhere - maybe a sports team hasn’t been for them - and this is where they find their tribe, home, and comfort zone.”

Not only that, but it’s also a place to rock out and have some fun! “We already know what our first two shows for our main performance groups will be,” Heather said. “This is for our students that are not adults, under age eighteen; British Invasion and Best of the 90’s!” The adult bands will have their setlist determined under the guidance of their show director, tailoring it to the abilities and taste of the group.

To keep up to date on these shows and all things School of Rock, you can find them on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok @SchoolofRockSanRafael or at their website, SanRafael.SchoolofRock.com. Please share with others to let them know, as any aspiring musician can now book a free trial lesson and see for themselves what this school is all about.
School of Rock offers after school activities and will initially be open on Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Monday through Thursdays from 2:00-8:00 pm. They also have fantastic Summer Camps, which can be found on their website and are already filling up fast. In about six months they will audition for the house band and those talented kids will receive special coaching and play gigs throughout Marin County.

“I am very grateful for the reception we’ve had in the Marin community,” Heather said. “We love what we’re seeing and feeling so far!”

Thank you, Heather and all the hard workers at School of Rock San Rafael, for all you are bringing to our community!

school of rock san rafael

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