This July I was fortunate enough to be able to take two weeks away from SmallBox and volunteer as a bass guitar instructor and band coach at Girls Rock! annual band camp. I'd wanted to do this for awhile, and when I heard they had extended their camp to be two (one-week) sessions this year, I jumped in head first and signed up for both weeks.
Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a day camp for girls ages 8-16. Girls come for a week-long crash course in playing an instrument, songwriting, zine making, self-defense and more! At the end of the week, campers get to perform their original song with their band at a local live music venue. Campers do not need to have any prior music experience, and instruments will be provided.
It was an incredible and amazing experience – and possibly the toughest two weeks of my life! Each week I spent the morning helping my awesome lead instructor, Michelle, teach bass guitar to 8 amazing girls... and then each afternoon I coached "my" band to write and (eventually) perform their own original song at a showcase held on the Saturday following camp week. Each of the bands got to perform their song on a real stage (with real amps and sound 'person') to a packed house of their fellow campers, friends and families. It was an amazing (and exhausting) experience. And then – we did it all over again!
Sure, it had its tough moments (we are talking about creative-minded, pre-teen girls here!) but it was completely worth it. The experience inspired and strengthened me... and looking back, it occurs to me that the lessons the girls learned while becoming musicians that week, actually mirror lessons that I carry with me today:
1. Be fearless (trust your instincts and just go for it)
2. Keep it simple (over-thinking can easily lead to over-complication)
3. Leave space (stop and listen)
4. Trust your band (we are on the same team)
5. Mistakes are inevitable (learn from... don't fear them)
6. Practice or suck (you get out what you put in)
7. Start somewhere (bad ideas are better than no ideas, and often lead to good ones)
8. Come prepared (don't leave others waiting, or pulling your weight)
9. Have a "sweet move" (stand out... be noticed/known ... in a good way)
10. Smile and dance (have fun)
Start somewhere: bad ideas are better than no ideas, and often lead to good ones!
One of the songs we learned during bass instruction – Hozier's "Take Me To Church".
Also, Girls Rock! is putting together a live showcase of a few of this years campers at their new space in Fountain Square on first Friday (Sept. 4th) – as of now, it looks like at least one of my bands might be playing. Check back for confirmation!