Paul Green, founder of the original School of Rock a decade ago, is used to being imitated.

First it was comedian Jack Black, who seemed to play Philadelphia's Green - a quirky and irreverent guitar instructor - in the 2003 film. Then it was the emergence of a national market for kids' rock schools.

Now Green is getting more competition in his backyard.

Erin Riley, the '80s-era WMMR music director, has opened the Rock and Roll After School in Phoenixville, making her a rare regional challenger to Green's now coast-to-coast empire.

At both schools, students ages 8 to 18 get one private lesson a week from a professional musician on the paid staff, full access to high-end rock equipment, and the opportunity to perform live at school-sponsored gigs.

Riley's site boasts a 250-seat concert venue, eight practice rooms, and a summer membership of two dozen budding rockers ready to shred. But it is dwarfed - in extent, though not in kind - by Paul Green's operation, which has a site in Downingtown and will open a fifth Philadelphia-area location in September.

That school, in Doylestown, will make 50 nationwide for Green, who has gained notoriety from Philadelphia to Hollywood for his outsize ambition and tough-love teaching style.

Not to mention that Green's schools recently gained some "corporate muscle," as he says, when the private equity firm Sterling Partners - which operates Sylvan Learning Centers - bought a controlling stake.

His brand now dominates the growing market for rock instructional schools.

Said Green: "No one is really our competition until they start touring, doing festivals, and getting guest stars to play with them."

Each summer, Green selects 65 all-star students to tour the country and play live with "guest professors" such as rock gods Peter Frampton, Alice Cooper, and Eddie Vedder.

By comparison, Riley's school, which opened June 15 at a former manufacturing plant at Franklin Commons, seems a small operation. But that doesn't mean it lacks big, if young, talent.

Eleven-year-old Isaiah Weatherspoon attends Rock and Roll After School for drum lessons. The instructors have already given him the nickname "The Anointed One."

Said Isaiah: "I have a gift for playing the drums."

Isaiah, of Feasterville, has been drumming since he was 2. Then, he would use a pair of spoons to strike pots and pans, or bang on the back of the driver's seat as his parents drove, he said.

On a recent afternoon, Isaiah sat behind a pristine drum kit atop the school's fully-lit concert stage, practicing the opening to Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love."

"I think it's amazing how good he is," said his mother, Crystal, who had to step outside in order to be heard above the din. "It gets very loud, but we're used to it by now."

Like Isaiah, other students there said they hoped to play professionally.

"I wouldn't be able to stop even if I tried," said Ethan Vaughan, 17, a guitarist.

In that sense, Riley's school has something in common with Green's, where most students also dream of becoming a career musician.

Brandon Bigos, 15, a drummer at the Paul Green School in Downingtown - 17 miles from Phoenixville - said performing at live shows had inspired him musically.

"It's a great environment," he said. "You get experience playing on stage."

But where Green envisions his school's tapping a national market, Riley sees hers filling a community need.

"Philosophically, I feel differently about the approach to my school," said Riley, who worked at WMMR from 1983 to 1991. She later worked at WXPN and managed independent recording artists.

"One advantage here is the opportunity for kids to just hang out, socialize, and be with friends," she said.

The goal at Rock and Roll After School, Riley said, is "building self-esteem, having fun, and getting kids off the Internet."

Quite unlike the soft-spoken Riley, Green has gained fame as a practitioner of tough-love rock instruction.

His school, founded in his Philadelphia apartment in 1998, was the apparent basis for Black's film. Green considered suing the movie's producers but decided instead to accept the free publicity, he said.

In a 2005 documentary on his school, Green is shown berating his pupils as they prepare for a Frank Zappa tribute concert in Germany.

But Green's drillmaster methods work, said Eric Slick, 19, one of Green's first students at the original school eight years ago and now a professional drummer.

"A lot of the things he did were to motivate us to practice," Slick said. "Our generation is a particularly lazy one, and he would constantly whip us into shape."

Tom McKee, a keyboard instructor at the Paul Green School in Downingtown, said Green deserved credit for popularizing rock schools.

"It's amazing to me that it took as long as it did to create a school where kids learn rock music by playing it together," said McKee, 33, who also tours the country with a band.

"It works," McKee said, "and that's why all these other schools are popping up now."

Contact staff writer Max Stendahl at 610-313-8207 or