By DonnaLyn Giegerich
Close your eyes and imagine your favorite rock ‘n’ roll band on stage. We were at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank the first time we met Bruce Gallipani. It was a brief hello between sets for his terrific Rockit musicians. Rockit is a 501(c)3 music school for emerging artists 8-18 years of age. It is clearly a premier experience for young musicians in New Jersey who audition, learn and play songs with professional musicians to craft their skills.
Bruce’s vision has been to take rock ‘n’ roll talent out of the garage and onto the performance stage to showcase hard work and incredible talent. His work doesn’t just build bands, it builds bandwidth for his musician’s confidence, character and collaboration skills. These critical life skills are honed amidst peers while creative kids craft lyrics, sing songs and manage tight schedules. It’s another healthy forum for reinforcing social well-being, team building and artistic expression. The research around mastering music skills are compelling and so are the sounds that these kids create. Just close your eyes.
The genesis for Rockit occurred when Bruce, a professional musician himself and Middletown resident, volunteered to help organize a talent show at his daughter’s grammer school many years ago. At that time, Bruce realized that as schools slashed music programs, there remained a need for live music education within a structured and disciplined environment. Bruce went on to fulfill this void by creating Rockit with the assistance of the Count Basie Theatre. Today, as the executive director and founder of Rockit, Bruce is busy cultivating creative environments for young bands to expand and share their talent. Early mornings find Bruce lost in organizing, planning and opening doors to prospective students and supporters that share his vision.
Rockit’s team of talented music instructors hail from Berklee College of Music to Brown University. Trust and focus for creativity is at the heart of everything Rockit achieves. Everyone in the band benefits from private instruction which leads to the big performance stage within six weeks at the Basie. Approximately forty-five students participate in the Rockit family at a time with on-going auditions each January. When we asked how Bruce keeps young musicians on point, he proudly informed us that the kids encourage one another to work at their full potential and hold each other accountable. There is no begging, coaxing or pleading. These rockers regularly “bring it.”
What we admired so much about Rockit, besides the sensational sounds, was its commitment to community. Rockit Live Foundation supports many worthy causes and most recently donated its holiday party proceeds to Kick Cancer Overboard (KCO) for a third year in a row. KCO sends folks affected by cancer to sea for free to give families a break from hospital visits and treatment routines. Rockit’s latest jam fest with Santa resulted in twelve more cruisers heading to the beautiful beaches of Bermuda in May. What better way to celebrate the season of giving than witnessing kids rockin’ for sick kids during the holiday season? There’s not a dry eye at these purposeful parties jammed with supporters on their feet giving everyone a standing ovation!
When I asked Bruce about his motivating mantra to keep the music playing, he simply replied, “Love what you do.”
The right people will show up and it may take years, but as record producer Jimmy Iovine of Interscope Records once said, “Be different.” Rock on, Rockit! We love how you’re changing the world with your good deeds and kickin’ concerts. Learn more about Rockit at rockitlive.org.