Local RockStars take the stage

When Ryan Van Tuyl first picked up a guitar in the eighth grade, the notion of a rock 'n' roll school for kids seemed pretty far-fetched.

The Fountain Valley High School graduate first honed his musical chops by playing bass in a friend's punk band. At the time, rock music was already a multimillion-dollar industry, but it didn't have the prestige of, say, law or medicine.

"When I was a kid and I wanted to go buy a guitar and join and band, my dad was absolutely against it," said Van Tuyl, a Huntington Beach resident. "He thought I was going to be a strung-out drug addict who didn't finish high school."

As it turned out, Van Tuyl finished high school and then some. After serving as musical director for several Orange County churches, he earned an associate degree from the Bass Institute of Technology at the Musicians Institute. Six years ago, he launched his most ambitious project yet: RockStars Music Studios, which trains kids and adults how to play like their idols through one-on-one instruction, group lessons and live shows.

Saturday, Van Tuyl and company will get a chance to show off what they've learned, as RockStars plans to give a two-part concert at Pier Plaza. The first portion, beginning at 2:30 p.m., features students of all ages playing classics from the early 1970s, while Van Tuyl and other instructors will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. for a patriotic set called "Rockin' in the USA."

RockStars, located at 18582 Beach Blvd., Suite 214, in Huntington Beach, features instructors in voice, guitar, piano, bass and drums, but it also lets students take part in shaping the curriculum.

For the first few lessons, students often bring in songs they want to learn. In the 45-minute group classes, instructors have up to 10 students learn the same song, often devoting an entire session to a single verse or chorus.

Christie Cyprus, a 16-year-old Huntington Beach High School student, has taken guitar and voice lessons at RockStars almost since it opened.

For her first lesson, she asked her instructor to teach her Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." It was the group classes, though, that showed her how much coordination goes into a band performance.

"It's a lot different than just playing on your own," said Christie, who plans to sing three songs at Saturday's show.

Dwyer Middle School seventh-grader Chad Decker, who also plays guitar, said he learned about a different aspect of the music business in preparation for a recent show at the Rose Center Theater in Westminster.

Before the show, Chad said, his instructor urged every student to get between 20 and 30 people to attend — which meant being a promoter as well as a performer.

"He was telling us, 'You can't just invite them to come,'" said Chad, 13. "'You have to give them details about the show and make it sound exciting.'"

If You Go

What: RockStars Music Studios concert

Where: Pier Plaza, Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach

When: Student bands 2:30 to 5 p.m., instructors 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

Contact: (714) 962-852

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