Phil X, who plays for Bon Jovi, was shredding his guitar, demonstrating licks and talking creativity last week in an unusual setting—from his living room in a live Zoom session with School of Rock students.

The new partnership that connects the franchise’s music performance students and their real-life guitar heroes has to be the coolest virtual offering born from the pandemic.

CEO Rob Price calls the arrangement, called School of Rock Artist Sessions, “the harvest of a very thoughtful planting. Over the last few years we’ve thought of School of Rock as a creative community, and that extends outside of the four walls.”

Many of the brand’s franchisees and instructors are performing artists and current or former band members themselves, and know rockstars in their community. “Especially with the performing artists in our community, like Phil and Jay Weinberg and others, they’re clamoring to create and to share,” Price said. “They want to connect with fans, and we’ve got a community who’s desperate to find outlets in our students and our teachers and our franchisees.”

Jay Weinberg, the drummer for Slipknot, kicked off the virtual sessions in late March. “We knew we had something going on. We had about 1,600 people sign up, and the chat exploded so we had to turn the chat off. It was more than the attendance that clued us in that this was a big idea; it was the depth of the conversation,” Price said.

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