March 1, 2007 / 11:18 AM / 12 years ago

"Yes" vocalist shows teens how to rock

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Aspiring young musicians and wannabe rock stars are getting tips about how to hit the big time and the chance to perform with a veteran of the industry — “Yes” vocalist Jon Anderson.

Jon Anderson, the vocalist of progressive rock band Yes, performs in Bucharest September 5, 2005. Aspiring young musicians and wannabe rock stars are getting tips about how to hit the big time and the chance to perform with a veteran of the industry -- "Yes" vocalist Jon Anderson. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Anderson, 62, the vocalist with the 1970s progressive rock band “Yes,” is one of the latest stars to perform in concert with students from The Paul Green School of Rock Music founded in Philadelphia in 1998.

The school, which was the apparent inspiration for the film “School of Rock” with actor Jack Black, aims to help young artists reach their potential and to play their music in front of a live audiences.

Anderson recently played a series of concerts featuring “Yes” music with students who were not even born when the legendary band produced some of their greatest hits.

Q: How did you get involved with the school?

A: “Three years ago we played Philadelphia and about 20 kids from the school came to the show. The people I am working with now are teenagers — 14, 15 and 16 years old — who want to do “Yes” music. They decided to put together a showcase of “Yes” music for touring and asked me if I would be happy to come along, oversee it and be part of it.”

Q: How many teenagers have you been performing with?

A: “There are about 24. You have five or six at a time. Each song has about eight performing. Paul Green has this energy going with the kids. They work with each other and have different set-ups on stage. It is a very interesting concept. He gets them interchanging for each song. It’s beautiful because they all play so good. They are all excited to work together.”

Q: How many shows are there?

A: “We’ve done five this time around. We’ve been asked to do some shows in April and maybe a festival in the summer. It is an adventure for me to work with these teens.”

Q: What are you hoping to achieve?

A: “It is a teaching experience for me. I’d like to think that I’m the professor for the moment — giving them enthusiasm and a musical education and telling them what it is like to be on the road. It is a learning and a teaching experience for me as well.”

Q: Do you think rock music can be taught?

A: “Yes, it has a lot to do with the ears — being able to remember phrases. A lot of “Yes” music is written in musical form but it is more to do with remembering cord sequences. That’s part of becoming a musician, to be able to be a bit free with music rather than having it written down. You play it but you have to be able to experience it at the same time. The idea is learning by ear. Reading music is a healthy thing as well. It is a good starting point for them.”

Q: What are some of the tips you are passing on to the teenagers?

A: “I think the main thing is to enjoy what you do always and don’t get hung up on becoming a rock star. Enjoy rock and all kinds of music and remember it is a gift to be able to make music.”

Q: Do you think it is harder for young people to become rock stars and musicians today than when you were starting out?

A: “It is always hard to become a rock star, to have success. It is one chance in a million to have a big success and a life-time career. You have to work on it once you have attained some sort of career break.”

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