Folk musicians harmonize in new school
4/20/12 Berwyn Oak Park resident Rob Pierce, a long-time professional musician is opening a new folk music school on 6733 Roosevelt Road on May 1, 2012. Pierce plays his first guitar in one of the concert areas that will be utilized. | Tamara Bell~Sun Times Media
Friendly School of Folk Music
6733 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn
friendlyschool.org (website to open soon)
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:39AM
Roosevelt Road will soon be a friendlier place.
On May 1, Oak Park resident Rob Pierce is opening the Friendly School of Folk Music above his Friendly Tap on the Berwyn side of Roosevelt.
Pierce had been contemplating converting the apartment above the bar into a music school for some time so when the tenants who lived there moved out late last year, he decided to turn that dream into reality.
He converted the space into three music rooms where 16 teachers will offer group and private lessons in a wide range of musical instruments, including guitar, bass, drums, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, trumpet, saxophone, flute and piano,
“We’re going to teach nontraditionally,” Pierce said. “We’re going to find out what excites you about music and what you want to learn, and we’re going to make up a course by student.”
Students will also be encouraged to change teachers to meet their needs and interests.
“Let’s say you’re with me for twelve weeks and I see what really triggers your desire to play music,” Pierce related. “Maybe your favorite guitar player is John Mayer, a very fast player. That’s not me. I like to sing and play over chord progressions so I might turn you on to a different teacher.”
Pierce, who began playing drums when he was 9 years old and is currently a singer and acoustic guitarist, is primarily a self-taught musician.
“I did have some lessons along the way and I took music theory in college,” he said.
The Ohio native, whose family lived in Hoffman Estates and Palatine when he was growing up, studied business at Indiana University but chose music theory and percussion for all of his elective course.
After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles with his band, the Modern Day Saints. In 1994, the band migrated to Oak Park, renaming themselves the YellowHammers. They’ve played at such venues as FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, Ballydoyle in Aurora, Shuba’s and the Metro in Chicago, and Taste of Chicago.
The YellowHammers are also regulars at Friendly Tap, which Pierce purchased five years ago.
“I bought it from a guy who owned it for 40 years,” Pierce said. “The first thing I did was apply for an entertainment license from the City of Berwyn. I now have music five nights a week.”
Pierce doesn’t consider the Friendly Tap and the Friendly School of Folk Music as separate entities.
“It’s a music community, supporting the growth and the ability to play music in the local area,” he said.