The Sound Of Belonging

Finding the place where you belong is hard, no matter your age. 

Two educators, Chuck Kraus and Holly Clifford, are determined to make that place where kids belong at the School of Rock Saginaw. Chuck, a high school band and orchestra director for 20 years, and Holly, on her 26th year as a Visual Arts teacher, co-own the School of Rock Saginaw in Fort Worth. 

The School of Rock Saginaw is designed to get students on stage performing, with the goal of building strong musical proficiency. Students begin in Rock 101 to quickly develop a basic competence on a chosen instrument. Then the student moves onto the Performance Program, where they receive weekly one-on-one lessons with an instructor as well as weekly band practice with a group of their peers.

“When you get all the kids together, it’s different – it’s magical when the kids learn to depend on each other to have this product happen,” Chuck said. “These kids haven’t learned to be anxious yet. They just do it. When you see the confidence that comes out of that, individually but then as a group, it’s unique. It’s much like when you’re on the sports team, but with a musical spin to it.”

At the School of Rock Saginaw, you are encouraged to be your authentic self. 

“Kids are faced with so many challenges and obstacles today,” Chuck said.
“Being able to have a place where a kid can come and be themselves is important. If you want to be weird? Be weird. Go do your thing, man. You want to sing and dance at the same time and get your groove on? Go do it! No one here is going to judge you.” 

One student who has thrived during his time at the School of Rock is Zachary, Holly’s nine-year-old son.

“He used to be kind of timid,” Holly said. “When he gets onstage, it’s like a superhero putting on their costume. It’s his opportunity to shine and show this other side of himself. It’s like permission to let it all out and entertain.”

Zachary, who has adopted the stage persona of Johnny Danger, describes it as his suit of armor.

“This has helped him to be very driven and to not give up,” Holly said. “When things get difficult, he understands the benefits of sticking with it and practicing, and wow, look at all that hard work, it pays off.”

This life lesson is important not only for children, but also adults who are looking for a place to expand their craft and find a place of belonging.

“Music is for everybody, not just for kids,” Holly said “Music is something you can do for your entire life, anywhere you go, anywhere you move — you will always have a ready-made set of people who share this common interest of music. You don’t even have to speak the same language. Music is a language itself. It’s a great uniter and a great way to express yourself.” 

School of Rock Saginaw instructors have a wide range of musical experience, from premiere institutions such as the Berklee College of Music and the One O’Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas.

“Our instructors bring a wealth of professional and academic experience that is unparalleled, while also bringing the personal demonstration of what hard work is,” Chuck said. “The drum teacher started on pots and pans in his backyard next to the goats, and ended up on scholarship at Berklee — he gets hard work. Those are the things kids can see and can identify with. And he can identify with, yeah this is going to be hard, but look what can happen if you just give it one more shot.”

The School of Rock Saginaw is designed for everyone, offering a multitude of programs, such as the Little Wing Program for kids 3-5, a Songwriters Program, a House Band Program, and an adult program for those 18 and older. 

“We’d love for you to give us a call and we can walk you through all we have to offer,” Holly said. 

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