Music to my ears


Dustin Rhoades

Madelynn Gartland and Avery Rhoades perform with School of Rock.

Paisley Regester, features writer

A passion for music can take many forms for students at KHS. Whether they are solo musicians, in bands or members of private music programs, performing both for online communities and live in front of thousands, these four KHS students never want to stop doing what they love: making music.

Madelynn Gartland, sophomore

Madelynn Gartland has always desired the stage presence of Freddie Mercury. Drawing inspiration everywhere from hard rock to opera, Gartland’s passion for singing, as well as her pursuance of viola, piano and bass, has challenged her to step outside her comfort zone.

“Having to put yourself out there on the stage [is challenging],” Gartland said. “Singing is your body. You don’t really know exactly what is going to happen, so it’s a little scary.”

Gartland, who takes vocal lessons with School of Rock, a music school that offers lessons and performance opportunities to people of all ages and abilities, is appreciative of all the program has offered her since she joined in sixth grade. With downtown Kirkwood containing one of two School of Rock locations in Missouri, many students from the Kirkwood community have become involved in the program.

“Stage experience [is important],” Gartland said. “Being able to perform with a bunch of different people and hear a bunch of different artists and genres is really fun.”

Gartland’s favorite experience with School of Rock was being able to perform at Summerfest, a three-day music festival that showcases over 70 bands from over 50 School of Rock locations. Gartland said she was initially nervous performing in front of such large crowd, but after three times playing the festival, she said she has grown to feel comfortable onstage.

Recently, Gartland has been focusing on playing piano, which she said is easy to play while singing. She hopes that it will be useful when thinking about her future career in music.

“I hate to say ‘I want to go out and be a big star,’ but that’s the ultimate dream,” Gartland said. “I just want to play music for the rest of my life and be able to support myself by playing music.”

Connor Fiehler, junior

Connor Fiehler was just fourteen years old when he joined Thames, a Saint Louis-based alternative/indie rock band. With Thames, Fiehler has performed at notable local music venues including Delmar Hall, the Blueberry Hill Duck Room and Off Broadway alongside other well-known bands like Vesperteen, SIMO and Waiting for Flynn.

“It’s pretty cool to be honest,” Fiehler said. “I had no idea I was going to get put into a band with college kids and I’d be playing Delmar Hall within the first year of my career.”

Fiehler’s passion for music was influenced by a seventh grade trip to Memphis, Tenn., where he was inspired by the city’s roots in blues music, as well as blues musicians like B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Fiehler has since become involved with of School of Rock, which has helped him evolve to the musician he is today. He now plays bass guitar in Thames, in addition to acoustic guitar, piano and violin.

“School of Rock is one of those things where if you join at the right time, which is pretty much as soon as you start playing an instrument, they’ll get you playing in groups and get you playing on stage,” Fiehler said. “For young musicians, it is perfect.”

This past summer, Fiehler was one of 150 School of Rock students chosen from over 20,000 worldwide for the “All Stars” program. He was given the opportunity to tour the country for eight days, playing a total of five shows with a randomly selected team of School of Rock students.

“That was the greatest experience of my life,” Fiehler said. “The people I met and the experiences I had were just amazing.”

“I hate to say ‘I want to go out and be a big star,’ but that’s the ultimate dream. I just want to play music for the rest of my life and be able to support myself by playing music.””

— Madelynn Gartland

Lane Fox, junior

Despite her young age, Lane Fox has already created three self-produced albums that are now published on Bandcamp, an online music platform for independent musicians. She now takes private guitar lessons, in addition to playing flute with the KHS band.

“I first started getting into music when I came in as a freshman,” Fox said. “That’s when I convinced my mom to [let me] take my first guitar lesson.”

Fox’s use of acoustic guitar is reminiscent of the folk genre, which she considers her music to fall into. She admires the genre’s uncomplicated form, and is influenced by other folk artists including her favorite band, Forest.

“Making music is comforting,” Fox said. “I get all these ideas piled up in my head and I’m just like, ‘I have to get these out somehow.’”

Fox values self-improvement and hopes to see her music evolve in the future. She currently participates in a guitar recital every six months through her lessons, but aspires to perform her own music live. Though she plans to major in Ecology in college, she wants to continue making music.

“I don’t really have a set goal for my music,” Fox said. “I don’t want to become famous or anything, but I just want to keep making it. I think that’s the main goal for me, just keep getting better.”

Avery Rhoades, junior

Avery Rhodes has always been involved in the world of music. As a kid, she was surrounded by her dad’s instruments, and it was in third grade when she began to make music of her own. Recently, she joined School of Rock which expanded her passion and knowledge of music even further.

“Music is a way to express yourself,” said Rhoades. “It’s a way of putting out my emotions, without physically having to come up with the words.”

Not only has School of Rock expanded Rhoades’ mind musically, but socially as well. She has had the opportunity to travel to various festivals and meet other musicians from around the world.

“I’ve become close friends with people from School of Rock, which is really nice,” Rhoades said. “I met friends I even want to start a band with, and that’s something you don’t find very often.”

With her future band, Rhoades hopes to play shows with sets that are a good mix of chill and funky. Her musical inspirations range from jazz musicians like Frank Sinatra and Etta James, to classic rock and modern music artists. Rhoades, though still unsure of where her post-high school path will take her, knows that music and the music community will always have her back.

“Music is something that keeps me going,” said Rhoades. “No matter what I’m doing, or what mood I’m in, music always helps me.”