“When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town,” belts out vocalist Kristen Loggans, during a recent morning rehearsal at the School of Rock in Haymarket. She and three other local teens are preparing for their debut at the town’s inaugural music festival this Saturday.
Their instructor, Conner Hitchcock, handles drums so his students can practice “China Grove,” by the Doobie Brothers. The young musicians were not around when the 1973 song rose to the No. 15 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but they have it covered as electric guitarist Max Dunick, 13, masters the beginning riff music fans of all ages easily recognize.
“China Grove” is the perfect selection for their music festival playlist. The lyrics depict a real town along a Texas highway the way songwriter Tom Johnston imagines it could be, according to online articles.
It can describe any place, including Haymarket, which calls itself “Everyone’s Hometown.”
“You can even hear the music at night,” sings Loggans, 16, who inflects her voice with just the right styling for a classic rock hit.
Hitchcock founded the School of Rock in Haymarket two years ago with his mother, Mary Hitchcock. He works as the music school’s general manager and instructor, providing students with a performance-based education in electric and bass guitar, drums, keyboard and piano, as well as vocals.
Hitchcock started playing bass guitar at age 12 and attended a performance-based school in Loudoun County. He explains how the School of Rock is different from traditional music schools, where students typically attend lessons and then go home to practice, like athletes learning how to play a sport without a team.
“Here, we give you a community of young musicians who are like-minded and love music,” he said.
School of Rock students have a team called a “core rock band,” Hitchcock said.
Loggans, Dunick, keyboard player Christian Tenley, 16, and bass guitarist Owen Clapper, 16, said they are stoked about their live performance at the music festival and note their repertoire also includes covers from American rock stars Lady Gaga, The Cars, The Killers and Audioslave.
The School of Rock is enrolling students now. Call 703-743-5277 or visit online at haymarket.schoolofrock.com.