Charlie Benante, drummer for thrash legends Anthrax, spent Monday February 11 back in the classroom. Benante turned the Woodlawn Middle School in Lawn Grove, IL into his own School of Rock! The accomplished Grammy-nominated musician was invited to the school to speak with 7th graders about his experience with music, both as a student and a performer.
Benante commented on the experience: “My stepson comes home one day and says that he learned how to play “Smoke On The Water.” I’m like, ‘What?! That was one of the first songs I learned how to play too. They’re still using that?’ I thought it was great. He asked me, “Would you come to the school and show the class some things?” He convinced me and I ended up doing it.”
Benante spent a class period speaking to 75 music and art students about his experience learning how to play music, as well as all things Anthrax. School librarian and technology director Howard Frishman, who organized the event, had this to say: “Charlie had a profound effect on the students. He’s a great motivational speaker. There was a buzz going around school. When we first came up with this, we said, “Let’s do something cool the kids won’t forget.”
One lucky student was asked to come up in front of the class and received some one-on-one schooling from Benante. “Because of guitar hero, these kids who are 12 years old know songs like “Madhouse” and “Paint It Black,” said Benante. “They asked me to play those, as well as some Led Zeppelin.”
“I also told them about how I went and took guitar lessons. I told them the lessons seemed boring at the time and that the last thing I wanted to do after a week of regular school was go to music school. But I told them later on that it all made sense to me, because I benefited from doing that. When I’m playing with the band, a certain rudiment will come out of me, and I can always trace it back to when I took lessons.”
Benante and Frishman are already considering a second information session at the school, and the drummer hasn’t ruled out the possibility of having the rest of the members of Anthrax there as well. Additionally, Benante and Ovation Guitars will be donating several guitars to support the music programs that are so important to today’s youth.