Ready to rock

Erin and Cody Johns

Photo by Mason Masis

Cody and Erin Johns share a lifelong love of music, and with their recent purchase of Chico Rockstars: School of Music, they hope to pass that love on to generations to come. The husband and wife purchased the school in November from Michael and Jessica Braun Poropat after they saw it was for sale via Facebook. Cody is a local percussionist and has played with several local bands, while Erin is a classically trained musician who studied music at the University of Nevada, Reno. Before the purchase, Erin was working as a full-time nanny, but she says she and Cody couldn’t pass up the opportunity to switch gears and teach music. By combining Cody’s garage-band style with Erin’s classical experience with brass and woodwind instruments, in addition to piano, the Johnses hope to send students of all ages into the world with full musical educations. The school also supports local bands by renting its building out for practice by the hour. The school is usually open by appointment only, so call ahead (809-4932) to schedule a tour or a lesson and find them online at

What do the youngest students learn?

Erin: The really little ones are doing music and movement. They are dancing and singing and doing that sort of stuff. Our youngest student in lessons is 3 and she’s playing drums. I have a 5-year-old who’s playing piano. A lot of the younger ones come in wanting to play guitar, but their hands aren’t big enough, so we teach them ukulele so they can get the finger strength down [for] when they get older.

What instruments do you teach? Is it “anything goes”?

Erin: That is pretty much our motto. If you wanna learn it, we can teach it. If we don’t have a teacher, we’ll find one.

Cody: I think the most exotic instruments we can teach right now are accordion, mandolin; we have a banjo, orchestral strings, too. Just about anything anyone wants to learn, we can teach it. And we are always looking for ways to expand what we can teach and the classes that we offer.

How many instructors do you have?

Cody: About 10. All of them are local musicians or regional groups. We have very experienced instructors and they are great with kids.

What’s your philosophy behind teaching?

Erin: Basically, my goal is to turn out musicians who can read music and understand music theory, which is where a lot of kids who are learning rock instruments miss out. The same thing for the classic instruments. If you are playing a classical instrument, I want you to be able to play by ear. We are also working on getting kids into bands to play together. When they do that, they will be playing songs they decide on and doing covers for a while before we start helping them learn how write, too.

Cody: That’s our goal—to turn out quality musicians. We want them to be able to read music off a sheet but also know enough to be able to compose their own stuff.