A Legacy of Music: How Two New Owners Kept the Dream Alive at Bach to Rock, Rocklin
Posted on: April 19, 2023
Join us as we share the inspiring journey of Mel and David, who turned their deep passion for music and their faithfulness to a late couple’s dream into a thriving Bach to Rock franchise in Rocklin, California. Together, they are living out a heartwarming legacy by enriching the lives of young musicians in their community.
In the fall of 2016, when David James started working as a director at Bach to Rock in Rocklin, California, he had no idea that a few years later, he and his wife, Melissa (Mel) Solano-Rojas would be the school’s owners.
Their story is bittersweet. The first owners, Dr. Albert and Millie Kahane, opened the school in early 2016. Albert and Millie both had had esteemed medical careers before opening the school. Dr. Kahane was a prestigious OB/GYN, and Millie was a leading advocate for the development and training of nurse practitioners. They were active in their retirement, supported a range of philanthropic interests, and had a passion for helping young musicians.
David worked closely with the Kahanes to get Bach to Rock off the ground. Sadly, Albert passed away in 2017, and David continued to lead the business successfully.
In 2018, David left his role as director to pursue another career. At that time, Mel came on board as the school’s new director, tapping into her experience as a Starbucks manager and her other leadership roles. Together, Mel and David had worked tirelessly to build the school and establish an excellent reputation in the community. Unfortunately, in 2020, Millie passed away.
The Kahanes indicated their last wishes were for the school to remain in David and Mel’s capable hands. They wanted the positive work of helping kids become musicians to carry on.
“Mel and I feel so blessed with this opportunity. In 2022, we purchased the school. It is an integral part of our lives, and we will continue to work hard to honor the memories of Dr. Kahane and Millie,” said David. Let’s learn more about how Mel and David have upheld Millie and Albert’s intentions, and have made Bach to Rock, Rocklin, a flourishing success in their community.
Mel and David each have a wealth of work experience, ranging from corporations to small businesses to government agencies. Both hold business degrees from California State University, Eastbay. David was a piano performance major before he switched to business.
Prior to Bach to Rock, Mel was a manager/trainer at Starbucks Coffee Corporation, both within the U.S. and internationally in Puerto Rico. David was a special agent with the F.B.I.
He enjoys playing Bach, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Chopin, and contemporary artists like his mentor, George Winston. David was recently selected to attend a master’s class with Winston.
Their two children attend Bach to Rock. Marshall (Marshy) is 17, a multi-instrumentalist who is captain of his high school’s percussion team, and Isabella (Izzy) 12, is a pianist and competitive swimmer. Both are in bands at Bach to Rock and are part of the hands-on crew for in-school and community events.
How have you made your business successful? What have been the keys to success?
“We have made our business successful by hiring dedicated instructors, being active in the community and creating a fun, energetic environment. We work to our strengths!” Mel directs all of the daily operations, while David focuses on recruiting and retaining instructors.
What would you tell a prospective franchisee about starting a Bach to Rock?
Follow the guidance from Bach to Rock headquarters and tap into the expertise of other franchisees. Show your support to the community and participate in many events! And remember, when you get started, no event is too small, so build a good reputation and people will recommend you to others.
It takes time and hard work, but the community will respond and ask for help with music. As you continue to build your business/community connections through events, you will start to see increases in sign-ups. As your band program continues to grow, they will play at events and the word will spread organically.
Community leaders, schools, non-profits, and other key strategic businesses will start to see how partnering with Bach to Rock is advantageous, thus creating a symbiotic relationship. In fact, in 2019, we won the Ruhkala Community Service Award from the City of Rocklin.
What words of encouragement can you share with prospective franchisees?
Follow the model: Bach to Rock’s corporate personnel collectively have many decades of experience and have developed a concept that builds the business, provides great musical instruction for kids, and follows a successful model for community engagement.
Be patient: Every community is different, and until you hit the ground, there will be many unknowns, and surprises (both positive and negative), so resiliency is an important attribute.
Have fun but stay focused: Music is fun! The culture in your new business should be fast, fun, and enthusiastic. Teaching children music will not only make them successful musicians, but also successful members of society. And remember that your attitude sets the tone for your school. Excitement is contagious!
Share the story: Go out in the community, meet people and share your mission and vision. People value a good story, and you have many of those in your school.
What has surprised you the most about owning a Bach to Rock?
Since we managed the school for five years before we became owners, there haven’t been too many surprises. However, it is important for new owners to know that Bach to Rock is a seasonal business, and the summer dynamic is completely different than the school year. A lot of planning is required.
What do you enjoy most about owning/operating a Bach to Rock?
We enjoy seeing our own children, and all the students, become really excellent people and musicians. Our bands learn how to rock and how to serve their community. We love providing something for everyone so our school can feel like a community hub. We also enjoy the flexibility to make the decisions about the direction of the business.
What’s the most popular class or lesson at your school?
We are really proud of our band program. We were humbled and honored to win the 2023 Bach to Rock Award for Best Band Program! Also, we are seeing a big increase in our early childhood program; it’s exciting to see kids as young as 3 years old learning music concepts.
When you meet prospective families/students or are talking about Bach to Rock in the community, what are the 3 key ideas that come to mind?
FUN place to learn. The B2R method is a great way to keep students involved. Easy arrangements for music and bands are simply a fun way to play an instrument.
WELL BALANCED: We have a curriculum that helps parents see the student’s progress as they receive a good mix of learning music, technique, and theory.
BENEFICIAL to the community. Families meet us and see we are helping in their schools or in the community and love it. We are part of the community and want to contribute to the overall experience.
Tell us about the atmosphere of your school. What keeps students coming back?
It’s fun, fast, and friendly. Leadership, admin, and instructors all are invested in making a fun, inviting, and encouraging place for parents and students. We offer something for everyone.
Parents can take lessons while they wait for their kiddos, and they can also join us at our monthly adult jam sessions. We want to be the place where everyone belongs. We work hard to secure consistent band performances in nearby businesses where families meet each other, which fosters a shared joy of music. It’s a palpable buzz or energy that can be felt everywhere.
What are your goals for the future with your B2R school? David would like to retire from the government and return to teaching music at the school. We plan to grow our group lessons. Ultimately, we want to continue to be a renowned music school and support our wonderful community where our students live. To learn more about programs offered by Bach to Rock Rocklin, view our online schedule or contact us directly.
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