It’s Been 15 Years Since ‘School of Rock’ Was Released: Here’s How to Play the Songs That Inspired a Generation of New Guitarists

When School of Rock was released in 2003, few would have predicted just how much of a legend this movie would become.

Fifteen years later, in 2018, the comedy remains a cult icon and has inspired a television adaptation, a Broadway musical, and – most importantly – a generation of guitarists to pick up an axe and stick it to the man!

The movie’s soundtrack is bursting with classic rock icons and toe-tappingly catchy original songs – which is why we have dedicated an entire article towards showing you how to play the key guitar songs from this nostalgic movie, curating some of the best free online tutorials that exist.

Grab your SG – it’s time to start a revolution!


What better song to open the film than ‘Fight’, played by Dewey Finn and No Vacancy in a bar. Somewhat poignantly, it turned out to be the final song Dewey played with the band before he was cruelly kicked out (not before a painful failed stage dive onto a hard floor of course…).

Currently no video lesson for this song exists, but you can follow free interactive tabs of Fight (including the erratic solo) while watching the following performance video.

Concierto De Aranjuez

Early in the movie, this concerto echoes through the halls of Horace Green prep school, leading Dewey – who by this time is early in his career posing as Ned Schneebly – to peek through the music room door and witness the talents of the kids.

This classical guitar piece may not be the best song to rock out to, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. The following video lesson runs you through how to play Concierto De Aranjuez with onscreen tab for easy learning.

Iron Man

Does your dad think that playing the electric guitar is a waste of time like Zack’s dad? Well – newsflash – he’s wrong (and you almost certainly need a new dad)!

‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath is the first of the three legendary songs Dewey shares with Zack in class. In the following lesson, we have Carl Brown from GuitarLessons365 teaching us how to play the main riff and chords of this classic rock icon.

Smoke on the Water

The next riff Dewey teaches Zack is ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple. This is another legendary tune from the world of classic rock and a simple riff to learn, especially when taught by Justin from Justin Guitar.

A word of warning: never play this song in a guitar store – it is guitar store cliché #1!

Highway to Hell

In quick succession, Dewey teaches Zack yet another iconic classic rock riff, this time AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’. In lieu of Angus Young – or even Dewey – to teach us the notes, we will stick with the charismatic Justin Sandercoe to run us through it.

Back in Black

After lunch, with the kids assigned their ‘killer positions’ in the band, ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC plays in the background. This song should need no introduction and, if you are learning just one classic rock riff today, make it this one!

We turn to the charismatic guitarist Marty Schwartz from Marty Music to teach us this distinctive tune.

The Legend of the Rent

Introduced around 35 minutes into the movie, Dewey sings ‘The Legend of the Rent’ while sporadically giving the band their instructions (‘…and then Zack, you come in with a face-melter!’)

There are no specific video lessons for this original tune, however a good tab of the song can be found here, while below there is a video of the School of Rock cast playing the song at the ten-year reunion. Now, all together: ‘You’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore!’

Step Off

Having overheard the moody exchange between Zack and his father, Dewey tailor-makes a song for Zack with the aim of cheering him up. It worked!

Follow the tab to this very simple song and play it with passion – although kicking over the desk is optional!

My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo goes to Bitburg)

This punk classic by The Ramones is the soundtrack to the upbeat montage as the School of Rock band prepare for Battle of the Bands.

Of all the songs in the movie, this is one of the easiest to learn and only involves five chords, which can be strummed as open chords or palm-muted powerchords. Learning the chords via a tab is simple, but here is a quick run-through of the song by a fan.

Immigrant Song

Dewey sings along to this timeless Led Zeppelin track as he drives the band back to school following their successful trip to qualify for Battle of the Bands (made possible thanks to a mass bout of the rare blood disease, ‘stick-it-to-the-man-eosis’).

Marty Schwartz is back to give us a video lesson of this relatively straightforward but kick-ass track.

Math Is A Wonderful Thing

Okay, so it’s nothing compared to most of the other classic tracks in this movie, but ‘Math is a Wonderful Thing’ was a genius display of quick thinking by Dewey after a spontaneous visit by Principal Mullins, who sits in on the afternoon class.

This is the easiest track to play, so a quick look at this tab will give you the chords. The timings are the trickiest aspect of the song, so nail them by re-watching Dewey perform it to the class in the video below.

Edge of Seventeen

To win over Principal Mullins as they discuss the potential of an ‘educational’ school trip, Dewey plays this solid Stevie Nicks favorite on the jukebox in the bar.

Check out this accurate tab and watch the cover video below for timings. If you are singing along, don’t forget those ‘Ooo, ooo, ooos’!

Heal Me, I’m Heartsick

After ejecting him from the band, No Vacancy continued without Dewey and are playing their slow rock classic, ‘Heal Me, I’m Heartsick’ as the School of Rock band arrives at the competition. Ultimately, this song won the Battle of the Bands, so – despite our disdain for No Vacancy – it still deserves its time in the spotlight.

A great tab for Heal Me, I’m Heartsick can be found here, although for a clear look at what is happening on the fretboard, check out the video below:

School of Rock

It’s the climax of the movie and the band play Zack’s song, also known as ‘School of Rock’. It should have won the competition (what were the judges thinking?!). Ultimately, if you are only planning to learn one song today, this is the one!

Here’s a great video lesson of the song – complete with solo – by Mark Zabel along with accompanying tab. Now, let’s get out there and melt some faces!

It’s A Long Way To The Top

Of course, they didn’t win the contest, but the School of Rock certainly deserved their encore! And what better way than to bow out with a little AC/DC?

This song is played on stage, then rolls into the credits, wrapping up the movie. Check out the video below from Justin Sandercoe to learn this cool riff.

Now, did somebody say ‘sequel’…?

Have you found a better tab or video lesson for any of these songs? Help us improve this article – please leave a comment below!

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