Everyone Rocks offers an alternative method to traditional music lessons.
Ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and doctor, lawyer, astronaut or rock star will often follow.
But thanks to a local music studio, those who answer with the last no longer have to wait years to achieve their goal. Owned and operated by Gene Hodsdon, Everyone Rocks encourages out-of-the-box music lessons.
Hodsdon urges his students to move around when it comes to the instruments they play. Rather than the students staying with one instrument, he switches them around on vocals, keyboard, drums, bass and guitar.
“If I get an 8-year-old kid on guitar … 10 minutes in, his fingers hurt, and we’ve gone as far as we can,” Hodsdon said. “[So I’ll say], ‘Hey, let’s try some drums for a little bit,’ [or], ‘Let’s try some piano for that.’ It keeps it interesting instead of … conditioned.”
Overall, Hodsdon is working to foster a love of music.
At Everyone Rocks, students go to a bright-purple music studio and jam out to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” with their friends in their own rock band.
Hodsdon, 35, splits his students up by age, skill level and whether they are there just to have fun or to take a more serious approach. The groups then go on to rehearse together as a real band and play at events around Sarasota.
Burning Burritos, one of 12 Everyone Rocks bands, comprises five 13-year-olds who have become close friends over their two-and-a-half years as a band.
The band members are Nadya Smirnova, vocalist and pianist; Miguel Rodriguez-Diaz, lead guitarist, bassist and pianist; Jack Fletcher, bassist; Logan Warren, guitarist and backup vocalist; and Jacob Rothenbach, drummer and pianist.
Burning Burritos performs mainly rock music, including covers of “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams, “Holiday” by Green Day and “Seven Nation Army,” by The White Stripes.
“Most of the songs are like old songs from back in the day, and it’s fun to play them because you haven’t heard them in a while,” Smirnova said.
The name of the band came from a joke made by Rodriguez-Diaz. The five members were trying to come up with a name, and he said they should name the band after Mexican food.
“Burritos,” he told the band, and they responded with, “Burning Burritos.”
“Everyone was laughing, and then somebody was like, ‘OK, then Burning Burritos,’” Rodriguez-Diaz said. “And I said, ‘Wait, that was a joke.’ But I guess the name stuck, and now we’re the Burning Burritos.”
Beginning his career as a film scorer after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Hodsdon didn’t always see himself working with kids.
As a composer, he said life was isolating and consisted of working alone in his Boston apartment. But when he moved back to his native Sarasota and started to teach music lessons, he fell in love with it.
“It’s the opposite of ‘Follow your passion,’” he said. “You don’t even necessarily know until you try, but it turned out I really love [teaching]. It’s awesome.”
The idea for Everyone Rocks came after Hodsdon left the music school where he was working because he didn’t like the way the owner interacted with his students. Parents of one student pointed out that he had all of the equipment to open his own studio; he just needed to find a space.
After he found that space at 5688 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Hodsdon opened Everyone Rocks in fall 2014.
He said the program helps his students find patience and discipline in the music field as well as in their everyday life.
“It’s funny because the music is kind of the easiest part, and the challenging thing is dealing with the people aspect of it,” Hodsdon said. “If they can kind of develop big picture skills [now], as adults [it will be] a good thing.”