Making music. That’s what Gary Gillespie, creator of BUILD a BAND, is all about. Blessed with the knowledge from an early age, he knew that this was what he wanted to do with his life. By eleven, he was writing songs and gathering the kids in the neighborhood together so he could have an audience to play them to.


After touring and playing professionally for twenty-five years, he made the decision to spend more time at home with his children, and to look for a way to share some of the things he had learned over the years with others.


He always wanted to work with children, and having had Dyslexia, a language learning difference, all his life, as well as watching his own children struggle with this, he decided to become a therapeutic language tutor. He was well aware of the potential that is often lost on children who struggle with Dyslexia, and wanted to find a way to help them succeed.


“Many children with learning differences tend to shine artistically,” said Gary, “This creative spirit and the sometimes-unbridled exuberance that goes with it, however, is not always celebrated in the mainstream classroom.”


After completing his Orton–Gillingham training (a multi-sensory approach to language learning) he was hired to work at Fraser Academy, Vancouver’s top private school for dyslexic children.


In his second year at the school, he was given the opportunity to teach a rock music program to the Grade 1, 2 and 3 music classes, and by the end of his 14 years at the school he was teaching the entire elementary music program as well as senior drama.


Gary began thinking about all of the children who were unable to have the kind of experience F.A.’s rock music program offered. He decided to start a program outside of Fraser that was open to anyone to attend.


Before They Were Famous Rock School was established because he believed that everyone has a creative spirit that is waiting to be explored. And that discovering a rewarding creative outlet through music is something that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

We all learn differently and the more options available, the better. Playing in a group is also a great form of motivation. When the students know they’ll be playing that AC/DC tune next week with their band, they become more self-motivated to practice. Being a part of a group is always more inspiring.


When we know why we are learning what we are learning, when we have input into and see the purpose of the things we are being taught, we become much more engaged in the whole process.


The program is founded on a philosophy that music is a universal gift that, when experienced, raises people of all ages to a higher potential. Music making is a common thread in the harmony between people. The goal is to bring this experience closer to home by building a strong community of music-makers.


I strongly believe that focused interest in a creative process such as music can support positive futures for many of the talented young musicians all around us. 


Music can provide an outlet for that which cannot be expressed through words.