Students can enjoy a School of Rock experience at Southwest High School’s Contemporary Academy of Music, a program that teaches kids to write, perform, and record music, from punk to rap to country to whatever. The teacher who guides these fledgling musicians is Marco Petrilli, a former rocker based out of New York who eventually grew up, married, became a father, settled down in Fort Worth in 2006, started teaching math, and connected with his students through music. “I feel like I’m the most blessed man in the city,” Petrilli told me. After teaching math a few years, the multi-instrumentalist Marco hauled some of his instruments to his classroom about 10 years ago and told students they could jam on them at the end of the school day. Kids started showing up regularly and blew away Marco with their enthusiasm and talent. Those organic jam sessions evolved into an organized program with incredible successes. Many of the students have gone on to college using music scholarships. Marco shows us around the school’s music hall, where drums, guitars, pianos, keyboards, basses, and various instruments are always set up and ready to be played. He rounds up an eclectic bunch of teens to jam with us on a fun version of “All Along the Watchtower.” Thanks for your hospitality, Marco. And thanks to all the kids for making this episode such fun — including Money Reezy for teaching me dance moves. — Jeff Prince


  1. Thanks Jeff for helping to spread the word about our “Music and Sound Design” program of studies
    at Southwest High School. It’s one of Fort Worth ISD’s “Programs of Choice”, which is available to students from anywhere in the city. My students can also perform in Southwest’s award winning jazz band, marching band, wind ensemble, orchestra, or choir for an exceptionally well-rounded musical experience. Applications are available November 8 thru December 13. Here’s more info:

  2. Thank you Jeff you guys gave a really big “push” for me and my other fellow students to be noticed by other’s and hopefully we impressed them! I wish to become a singer myself and wish to do shows for people! Wether its being known around school, Fort Worth, or world wide. I’m still learning other ways to express myself through music other than singing. So thank you guys! Please get in touch with me again if you ever need anything! You guys are a HUGE blessing thank you!

    • Thanks for being bold and creative, Nattie. I asked you that day if you wanted to sing the verses, and you grabbed at the opportunity and did a great job. That’s the way to do life! The group effort with everyone on stage turned out to be one of the best musical performances we’ve ever had on the show.