Know Your Neighbors – Jennifer Malone

Until I moved to Oak Park, I didn’t realize that ‘School of Rock’ was a real thing outside of the 2003 movie starring Jack Black. Ever since walking past it for the first time (and bemoaning my lost – i.e. never begun – singing career) I’ve wanted to know more. Today we have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to have a career in rock-n-roll from Jennifer Malone, a Music Director (and wife, mother, commercial star, hugger, neighbor, etc.) at Oak Park’s own School of Rock. Read on to find out learn more about Jennifer, including how she got started, what advice she has for those wanting to get into entertainment and what inspires her.

(By the way, I just found out that School of Rock has adult classes. See you there?)

Around Oak Park:
You’ve got a job dreams (at least my dreams) are made of. And it’s right here in Oak Park! Please tell us a little about what you do and how you got here.

Jennifer Malone:
I make rock-n-roll for a living. I am the Music Director at the School of Rock – Oak Park and a School of Rock National All-Stars Director. I have been with SoR for over 9 years. I started at the Chicago location teaching voice and then directing shows, camps and making a nuisance of myself as much as possible.

Three and a half years ago, I got the opportunity to help Amy Renzulli start up the Oak Park location and it has been an insanely rewarding experience! I work with the most talented people – both the staff and the students. We only employ pro working musicians so I am a part of an amazing network of bands to play out with. I invest in young talent and help them grow into devastatingly prepared musicians and citizens. I am able to honor the artists who have inspired me by keeping their work alive and relevant for another generation of fans. I recently finished a national tour with SoR All-Stars. I am surrounded by music – what could be better?

AOP:
And when you’re not working (aka making rock-n-roll) what are you doing?

Jennifer:
I am, in a sense, never not working because so much of what I do is tied to my lifestyle and community. “Work” for me is directing a performance at Riot Fest. I have a wonderful husband and two amazing kids (Desmond, a first grader at Longfellow and Callen Mary, a 2-year-old Tinker Bell enthusiast). We can be found at parks, pools, Brookfield Zoo, The Morton Arboretum, museums, and festivals. Or on the slip-n-slide a few doors down! I personally love to read, travel, talk, make stuff and go to arts events and be with family and friends.

AOP:
In addition to working in Oak Park, you also live here. What brought you here? And what keeps you?

Jennifer:
I live on the best block in Oak Park – 700 Lyman! Tomorrow is our annual pig roast, actually. Half of my neighbors are musical themselves. Some of them brew beer. We have a very busy front porch! Our kids run around together. My parents recently moved to Oak Parkers themselves. My first experience with Oak Park was working as a nanny; that gave me a real taste of living here. I moved here with my husband, Aaron in 2006. When I starting working here, I never dreamed I would grow to be a part of this wonderful, diverse, creative and inspiring community myself but I am so glad I am!

AOP:
What does the perfect day in Oak Park look like to you?

Jennifer:
It’s overcast, 64 degrees and the grassy hill at Scoville Park isn’t too crunchy to roll down with my kids.

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AOP:
How did you first learn that teaching rock-n-roll was a potential career path?

Jennifer:
I learned about School of Rock when it was still the Paul Green School of Rock and I saw a documentary about it! I couldn’t believe this was a “job” and I could get it. It’s the only job I can imagine that actually needs my skills-set and Rolodex-of rock-n-roll mind!

AOP:
If you had to explain your ‘personal mission statement’ to someone in 30 seconds, what would you say?

Jennifer:
My mission is to inspire, create and challenge.

AOP:
What is the best advice you have been given about the entertainment industry?

Jennifer:
“If you could see yourself doing anything else, do anything else!” I still tell students that. Entertainment is a tough industry.

AOP:
What is the craziest thing you’ve had happen to you, career-wise?

Jennifer:
I was “discovered” at a North Side coffeehouse by an agent who thought I looked “funky”. She took my picture for a client and I got a job in a print ad for Ameritrade. The theme was “everyone is trading online!” It was the most money I ever made in 15 minutes!

AOP:
If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Jennifer:
Read! And hug my kids. I can’t hug them enough. I can read while hugging.

AOP:
What (or who) inspires you?

Jennifer:
Everyone!

AOP:
In your opinion, what should someone consider before starting out on their own?

Jennifer:
Are you crazy? Really? Are you really crazy? Good. What are you waiting for?

AOP:
How do you stay organized?

Jennifer:
I really don’t.

AOP:
What’s your favorite season?

Jennifer:
I love Fall because of all the deep color, darkness, mystery and outdoor activities. I used to think farms were actually all full of bushel baskets and goats who would feed out of my hand.

AOP:
Please leave us with some musical inspiration 🙂 What’s your favorite song right now?

Jennifer:
My favorite song is usually from something I’m working on. I just used “Testify” By Parliament in a show and that was pretty killer.


To learn more about what Jennifer and the team at School of Rock are doing for the world of rock-n-roll visit: http://locations.schoolofrock.com/oakpark

Or stop in to rock out at 219, Lake St, Oak Park, IL 60302

About

Kelli is a contributor for Around Media Group. She also (intermittently) writes about the restoration of her 100 year old Oak Park house (and other stuff) at downwithop.com. In her 'real life' she works as a Marketing Research Director. And in her free time she loves hanging out with her husband/friends/family, wine, comedy, design, biking, organizing, traveling, meeting new people, taking classes and exploring OP/RF/FP - not necessarily in that order.

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