- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) - In the basement of a towering wedding chapel, another kind of marriage is taking place: the union of rock ‘n’ roll.

Launch Pad, a rock school and recording studio, opened about a year ago at 301 S. Center St. in Plainfield. It was the brainchild of two friends whose individual dreams merged under one roof.

Co-owner Ryan Freeman was attending a recording school in Nashville, Tenn. and dreamed of opening his own studio. Freeman’s friend, co-owner T.J. Hampton, was teaching guitar lessons in a music store and envisioned owning a school that helped artists hone their talents and find their voices.

“When you teach in a music store, it’s great and it’s a great way to learn, but it hasn’t really changed since the 1940s,” Hampton said. “You kinda get stuck in the little tiny room in the back of the store, and somebody’s playing ‘Smoke on the Water’ turned up to 11 out in the showroom. I just kinda always had this vision that it could be better.”

Freeman and Hampton said their business goes beyond the basics - providing music lessons and recording opportunities while connecting burgeoning musicians.

“We’re all about connecting different musicians here,” Freeman said. “A huge vision of ours is kids taking what they’re learning and playing it by themselves. We want all of our students playing together in a band and throwing concerts together.”

In its first year, Launch Pad recorded 200 artists and taught about 150 students, Freeman said.

Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t the only type of music blasting in the building. The company also caters to those interested in jazz, rap, country, bluegrass, rhythm and blues and any other genre.

Launch Pad is about finding joy in music. Its lessons often are a mix of instruction, encouragement and laughter.

Hampton said their students also learn confidence and teamwork.

“Our students are getting better, and they’re having the time of their lives,” he told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1kZqtaB ).

Nine-year-old Susanna has been taking drum lessons at Launch Pad for a few months.

“It’s a really cool place, and it’s awesome pretty much,” she said.

Susanna demonstrated her skills by performing “What Does the Fox Say?” with Freeman, who played in tandem on a drum set beside her. Freeman grinned and bobbed his head as he played, but Susanna’s face was set in an expression of intense concentration.

When the song ended, a huge smile crossed Susanna’s face and she giggled, flashing a double thumbs up.

Story Continues →