By Eric Peterson
Naperville native Jason Fein will bring both his performing know-how as lead singer of the punk band The Run Around and his experience owning School of Rock locations in Plainfield and Geneva to a new crop of students in Schaumburg next month.
Fein’s third School of Rock franchise will open Saturday, Sept. 16, at 1409 Wright Blvd. in the Northwest suburb.
“I wish this was around when I was a kid,” the 33-year-old Oswego resident said. “What we do works. These kids know they’re going to be on stage in a few months. It keeps them going.”
His own route to performing was more traditional — and therefore slower, he said. Beginning with piano lessons at 9, he picked up a guitar at 12 and began focusing on vocals at 14.
“My passion and what I do is singing,” Fein said. “I went to college on a vocal scholarship.”
Wearing a sequined vest as a member of a men’s ensemble harmony group may seem a long way from his performances with The Run Around today, but the basics he learned come into play every day.
“I use my training not to lose my voice,” he said. “I’ve definitely used my more traditional training for sustainability.”
His association with School of Rock began when he was hired as a vocal instructor at another Chicago-area location. Over two years he moved up to management and got the desire to open his own place.
“I really bought into the performance aspect,” Fein said. ” I saw the effect it had.”
As he often must tell people, it was the company that began in 1998 which inspired the 2003 Jack Black movie, and not the other way around.
But just as it was for him when he started teaching, School of Rock is as important to the performing musicians it hires as a steady part-time job related to their passion as it is to the students who can learn from them.
“I don’t look to hire someone who went from someone else’s classroom to their own classroom,” Fein said. “The stage is the greatest teacher. I only look for someone who’s had that experience.”
And eliminating fear of the stage is among the earliest goals for each student. Beginners who enroll in this fall’s Rock 101 classes will take part in their first performance experience in January.
Though only about half of students intend to make a significant part of their living in the future from music, the confidence and social ability the experience brings are shared by all, Fein said.
“This can bring what can be a very lonely experience — playing an instrument — into that group dynamic,” he said. “It’s very motivating.”
Fein opened the Plainfield school, not far from his home, in June 2013. He expanded to Geneva — a small, affluent community still somewhat off the beaten path — in 2015.
While School of Rock management wants each franchise in a different market, Fein said he was surprised the larger population in Schaumburg was still not being served, and leapt at the chance to make it his third location.