Justin, Tracie and Jaime Smith are opening a School of Rock music school on West Main Street. Photo: Alek Lewis

Downtown Riverhead is getting a rockin’ new music school. 

School of Rock, the music school that teaches students using popular rock songs, is opening at 212 West Main Street. The school will offer a variety of music classes for all ability levels for kids as young as preschool age and as old as high school seniors, as well as classes for adults. The school will also double as a music store. 

The school teaches students with a patented “School of Rock Method” that combines traditional one-on-one instruction with group rehearsals and live performances.

The business is being opened by Tracie and Jaime Smith of St. James, the husband and wife team who have owned the School of Rock in Port Jefferson Station for the last 13 years. Their son, Justin Smith, will act as the school’s general manager. The Smiths say they hope to open in January.

“It’s a song-first approach to music education,” said Justin Smith, a graduate of Juilliard, who himself went through programs at the School of Rock. During a regular week, students will have a one-on-one 45-minute private lesson with a teacher and have a two-hour long rehearsal with a group of their peers. 

The method allows students to learn by doing. “You wouldn’t be on a baseball team without playing a game,” Justin Smith said. 

More intermediate programs culminate in a public performance at a local music venue. Recently, Port Jefferson Station students played at a Halloween event at the All Star bowling alley, Jaime Smith said. The school also has concerts planned for the nearby Suffolk Theater’s stage.

The building has three separate rehearsal rooms that are “parent free zones.” Students have access to the school outside of their designated lesson hours as well, the Smiths said,

Every instructor is background checked and has a degree in music, the Smiths said.

“We are able to get kids ready for the next level, if that’s what they’re looking to do,” Tracie Smith said. “Or if they just want to have fun, this is a good place too.”

The programs will cost roughly $340 per month, the Smiths said. The school will offer a similar program for adults that is priced around $150, the Smiths said. Adults who have children in the school receive half off their own program, they said.

The School of Rock will be located between Safelite AutoGlass and the municipal parking lot next to Griffing Hardware. The business already has its sign up and the previously red-brick building has been painted gray. The Smiths were on site today to work on the development of their new school and paint logos and other designs on the building. 

“We feel like this is the epicenter of things that are happening on the East End,” Jaime Smith said of Riverhead. “We’ve driven to the North Fork, we’ve driven to the Hamptons, and every time we are on the road, it’s like Riverhead this way, Riverhead 10 minutes that way. Everything’s going back to Riverhead.”

“So it just seemed like the best location to kind of get started,” Tracie Smith added. “And we were going up and down Old Country Road trying to decide whether we wanted to be there or main street. But we really like the main street feeling. I like it. It’s just more homey, more family oriented.” 

School of Rock is the largest music school franchise in the United States, with 325 schools open in the U.S. and more than 500 schools across the world, according to the company’s website. Last month, School of Rock was acquired by Youth Enrichment Brands, a youth recreation conglomerate.

Due to how the franchising system works, the Smiths’ Riverhead business will be the only School of Rock on the East End of Long Island, they said. School of Rock will be the third music school in downtown Riverhead, joining Music & Arts and East End Arts, which are both further east along main street.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com