Montreal musician aims to empower kids, support local artists through rock 'n' roll

Inspired by the 2003 film School of Rock, Patrick Mainville has launched his own music camp in Verdun.

Inspired by the 2003 film School of Rock, Patrick Mainville has launched his own music camp in Verdun

Patrick Mainville is a musician and founder of the Montreal Rock School which he is running as a day camp out of his Verdun music studio this summer. (Photo by Myriam Baril-Tessier)

Like many people during the pandemic lockdown, Montreal musician Patrick Mainville was cooped up at home for most of the winter.

The inspiration for his latest project came after he settled in to watch the 2003 film School of Rock, starring Jack Black, with his daughter.

"I as​ked my little girl, my seven-year-old, if she wanted to watch one of my favourite movies," he told CBC's All in a Weekend.

"At the end of the movie, she was like over-excited and so pumped up. And she told me right away, 'I want to play guitar.' So I taught her to play Seven Nation Army from The White Stripes."

​Thrilled with the result, the father and daughter duo called up a few school friends and arranged to meet at his Verdun music studio, Musicopratik.

The band, dubbed the Rockers from Hell, continued to get together to practise there and hone their skills.

"Every time I saw them at rehearsal each week, they were growing in pride and they were more and more confident. So I said, that's exactly what I want to do," said Mainville.

"Seeing my little girl full of confidence and pride, it really touched me a lot. And I wanted to give that experience to other kids."

Mainville called up some musicians in the community, many of whom had been out of work during the pandemic, and got to work opening the École du Rock de Montréal.

"We have professional musicians from the Montreal scene who unfortunately had a very rough time during the last two years and they're going to teach," he said.

The day camp serves as a way to introduce young people aged seven to 17 to rock music, even if they've never played an instrument before.

It also puts money in the pockets of local artists and helps keep Musicopratik studios alive.

Patrick Mainville started the project after seeing how his own seven-year-old daughter flourished playing in a band with her friends. (L'École du Rock de Montréal)

In a news release, musician Antoine Loiselle said working as a teacher at the camp provides a chance to inspire a new generation of future artists.

"The pandemic really damaged my music career. Overnight, I found myself without a single offer of a gig. The Montreal Rock School, as well as being a job for me, is a way for me to pass on my passion for music."

'Music is for life'

Mainville explains that the camp will take a "non-traditional" approach to teaching music, with a learn-by-doing philosophy.

Instead of studying sheet music, participants will learn to play a song as a group and take home instruments provided by the camp to practise.

"The goal is to have fun in that process, to show them what the rock band experience is," said Mainville.

By the end of the week, they will have recorded a song in the studio and filmed a short music video.

WATCH | Patrick Mainville explains how he was inspired to launch a rock-based music camp:

Montreal School of Rock aims to empower kids through music

2 years ago
Duration 3:04
Musician Patrick Mainville started a summer music camp to give kids a chance to get into the studio and be creative.

Most of all, Mainville wants to introduce young people to the culture of rock 'n roll, which he says is as much about attitude as the music itself.

"Rock music — it's a way of not apologizing. You play with attitude, you play with confidence," he said.

"Music is for life. Whatever you do in life, music is going to be there. Even for me, when we had especially hard times the past year-and-a-half, when I feel like I don't know what to do, I can grab my guitar and play. And while I'm playing I'm forgetting everything. And I want to pass that on to kids."

With files from CBC's All in a Weekend