Music, and particularly rock, has been part of Lance Miley’s life for as long as he can remember. Miley founded and owns Rock School of Music, Clarks Summit, a nonprofit organization designed to offer music to all children. There, he teaches guitar, vocals, keyboard, drums and bass. On Friday, July 13, he and Making Music Matter for Kids will host the free Summit Fest Rock the Block block party on Spring Street in Clarks Summit from 5 to 9 p.m. Miley also is the vocalist for the band Metal Mob and has performed alongside many musicians throughout his life. He grew up in Sussex County, New Jersey, and now lives in Clarks Summit with his partner, Robin. He has three children, Lance, Kelsey and Jacob, and two grandchildren, Silas and Layla.
Meet Lance Miley…
What is Making Music Matter for Kids?
A nonprofit that supports low-income and disadvantaged youth. It also supports all kids. It’s not just for low-income. The cool thing is it’s the low-income (who) are supporting the kids who have families that can pay for it. We keep our prices low and affordable. The kids that are getting grants don’t need to be ashamed, because they’re supporting music for all kids. We have about eight kids who are getting grants. Right now, we need support. The program started with me moving from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. We opened shop in Lake Wallenpaupack in Greentown at the end of 2010. We had students coming in and working with us, and all of a sudden parents couldn’t afford $20 a week. I didn’t have the heart to say I couldn’t teach them anymore, so I volunteered my time. We started the nonprofit. We had an event at Wally Fest at Lake Wallenpaupack. Our first event was in 2015. We were just beginning to look into becoming a nonprofit. It was 100 percent charity through the community. In 2016, we put in for the 501, and in six months, we received our 503(c)3 application, a couple days before the event.
What got you interested in teaching?
As far as instructing, I realized that there’s a need. As far as teaching goes, I was teaching pretty young. I got serious about it probably 15 years ago. The bottom line is you have to give it away if you want to keep it. It’s always nice when you get a student who progresses, and you get to see them go off to college. There’s a lot of joy in it and passion about it. I just love teaching, and I get more out of it than gigging. That’s really why I teach.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing is when the kids come back and they’ve done their homework. I get to see it pay off. It’s always 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. I’ve been doing it long enough that I can tell right off the bat if they’ve done their homework. It inspires me to see kids grow. Music is an amazing tool.
When did you realize you wanted to be a teacher as opposed to a performer?
2008 was our first event. After touring for a couple of years, I stepped back and looked at my life and realized I love to perform. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so exciting; on stage I get to be somebody I’m not, I get to show my talents, but I knew back in [the early 2000s] I saw the direction music was going, and I didn’t want to include myself in that.
What is the project you’re working on with Metal Mob?
We’re in the studio. We’re putting together a press kit, and we’re going to be playing A-rooms, national clubs, maybe a couple local things. Metal Mob will be at the event on the 13th working with the kids.
Guitar was the first of many instruments you played. What interested you about it?
It was Glenn Campbell, and it was the pick. He was singing, and he reached into his pocket and he pulled it out and started doing these riffs up and down the neck that were just magical. For a 3-year-old, I had seen the pick and I needed to have a pick, so asked my dad to get me a pick, and he got me a guitar and a pick. I was correct about the pick. The right hand (if you’re a righty) is what makes the guitar come to life.
What happened after you got your first guitar and pick?
It was my first guitar; I was probably 3 or 4 years old. By second grade, I was playing in the school dances, parties. I took some lessons. I was a young kid doing some stuff, promoting the events, then Boy Scout gigs and into high school.
If there is one thing you could give or teach your students, what would it be?
Give back. Give what I’ve taught and whatever experience I’ve given them to another human being. Give charity. It’s greater than humility and gratitude. There is no humility or gratitude without charity.
What is one thing you’ve had to overcome or learn as a teacher?
Pride. Without a doubt. Every year, I get groups of kids together, and they would work together with me for two or three years and all of a sudden they decide they’re going to do it on their own, and it’s never worked out too well for them. I just remember that it’s not mine, it’s the greater power, the gift comes from above.
What is your favorite thing to teach and why?
Guitar. It’s almost universal. Learning guitar, I’m able to play keyboard, bass. I’m able to play other instruments. The instrument has much of the quality as every other instrument out there, combined. There are so many different ways to play modes and scales. With guitar, you can have three different patterns. Guitar is the greatest tool, but it also enhanced my vocals. It’s given me the opportunity to do vocals.