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This book will guide you through the tried-and-true best practices for starting a rock band at your school from the first audition to the final concert and give you the practical skills you will need to become a successful rock coach. From the basics of playing each rock band instrument, to how rock music is traditionally learned and transmitted, to the step-by-step process of forming a classroom or extracurricular rock ensemble, this book has it all. Learning how to coach a rock band can take years of trial and error but this book helps you bypass that step and get right to being the best rock coach you can be. You don’t need to be a rock star to be a great rock coach! If you are new to teaching rock music or if you have lots of experience but are unsure as to where to go next, this book is for you.


Rock Coach is a government-approved resource for teachers in the following Canadian Provinces and Territories:

  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Yukon
  • Prince Edward Island

This book is used as course material in a number of Music Education programs around North America including the University of Southern California!

Rock Coach by Steve Giddings is an amazing book for those wanting to start a rock group as an extra-curricular ensemble or inject it into their regular upper-year classes. Steve’s step-by-step, and practical approach is perfect for a handy guide but interwoven is the passionate philosophy behind his sound-before-symbol learner-centred process! If you are immersed in the Orff process, this book follows just such a process and will fit right into your older grades! Those with ukulele will love his approach too because it gives those teachers a starting point to form their own uke rock band or add the ukes in with the rock instruments! It is all about enjoying music and creating in a positive learner-centred environment---an incredible read!


- Linda MacIsaac-Gallant, Professor of Elementary Music Education Methods, UPEI



Music education majors get good training in their areas: band or choir, usually, also perhaps strings. What is rare is to graduate from music school as music teacher and know anything about other kinds of music and ensembles. There is nothing wrong with band, orchestra, or choir - except as far as that focus chokes out other kinds of music. Band programs are wonderful, but band (and the instruments that go into it - have you priced a bassoon or French horn lately?) is not cheap. I am of the opinion that it is long overdue to let in some other musical light into music education. Afro-Cuban and other drumming ensembles would be one. Classical guitar, another. Nonjazz improv should have a place at the table for all students. But the most blindingly obvious (obvious in theory, clearly not in practice) is to set up, encourage, and enable student rock bands. Questions of space and equipment (much cheaper than band instruments) aside, the biggest bump in this particular road is that very few coming out of traditional music education programs anywhere know anything about how to teach "rock band", unless we ourselves were one of the lucky few who taught ourselves and started our own bands, in which case it is very likely that we were not in the band program. Catch 22. So: even if you arrive at the idea that you want to enhance your program by helping students set up rock bands (School of Rock!), what do you do? Ignorance of the process can be even a bigger block than the budget cuts of narrow-minded, short-sighted school boards et al. are wont to inflict on arts areas.


Enter author Steve Giddings, one of Canada's most active and productive music educators. His new book "Rock Coach: A Practical Guide for Teaching Rock Bands in Schools" is just what the rock doctor ordered. This 156 page volume will provide the uninitiated with all the basics necessary to get a School of Rock up and running. The table of contents is five pages long, providing both an overview and quick access to all topics. If you are yet uncertain why rock should be part of a music curriculum, read Chapter 1, "Why Rock Bands", where he spells out in detail all the benefits of the ensemble and genres (if you got this far, you probably already know the benefits; this will provide you with clear ammunition to help you promote the idea to those in charge of school budgets and curricula). Mr. Giddings takes you on a tour of the basics of the instruments (guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, vocals, horns); content here is enough to get started, though players of all these instruments will need further instruction as they go, just like players of band instruments.


Rock music has, well, a million songs. What songs to choose in what order? Giddings to the rescue with lists of suggested songs that are classified by difficulty, from very easy/beginner to difficult.


How to teach rock music is a big question - rock music is primarily an aural art, not like concert band, which is entirely notated. Again, the author teaches the teacher how to teach this kind of music using aural methods. He also includes sections on auditioning and rehearsing and even songwriting.


This is an excellent and much-needed book that should be in library of every music education student, music library, and any band director who possesses the vision to expand his/her program to meet the needs of more students with this vibrant, living kind of music of today.


- Jeffrey Agrell, Professor, University of Iowa



I recently started teaching a course in Pop/Rock ensembles for pre-service teachers in a university music ed masters program. I myself have experience with coaching pop and rock bands but I needed a great textbook and resource for my students. Thank goodness I found Steve Giddings book! First of all, it's the only book of its kind and that in itself is a reason to buy it! But, beyond that, it's just a great and very thorough book for anyone who wants to coach these types of ensembles. With distinct chapters for each instrument, advice for the hesitant beginner, repertoire suggestions, chapters on incorporating songwriting, and much more this little book proved to be a valuable resource for my students. I have no doubt that they will refer to it again and again in their coming years as in-service teachers! Thanks Steve!


- Judith Lewis, Professor of Music Teacher Education, University of Southern California



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