Friday is always bittersweet for everyone at camp. It is the last day of a long and intense week, but it's the end of an empowering experience full of music, friendship, learning, and inspiration.
We started off our last day with a hip-hop aerobics workshop before heading into the final instrument instruction. Each group finalized what they had learned and most had a song or set of songs/lines/chords that they could all play together. The five drummers, for example, wrote and coordinated a drums-only song that they plan to perform at Saturday's showcase, and the bass players learned six classic bass lines over the five days:
Next, the campers headed to a workshop called Herstory of Women Who Rock and Rap. They discussed how the music industry is dominated by men and how there is an expectation that successful artists should have some kind of white, male presence. They split into groups and chose some of their favorite non-male artists, looked up more information about that they may not have known before, and shared with the rest of the group in an attempt to educate one another on female artists and to combat a) the way that the history we learn is saturated with mostly white, mostly male people and b) the way that the music scene in particular is dominated by mostly white, mostly male artists. Both are problems that lead to a lack of self-confidence in young folks who don't have white or male identities, so by having this discussion we hoped to help the campers break through the social barriers of music and the world at large. Some favorite artists they picked were Lucinda Williams, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Auli'i Cravalho, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, and the androgynous David Bowie.
Lunch was next, and we were extremely fortunate to host Shehehe as our final (female-fronted!) artist. The campers loved their show, and in no time, they were all up out of their seats and dancing, which they hadn't done for any of the previous performers.
Friday afternoons at Girls Rock Camp are always chaotic and intense, but fun and exciting, for both the campers and volunteers. For four hours after lunch, our bands rotated from recording in the studio with Joel Hatstat (Joel Hatstat Audio), running through their set on the Boys and Girls Club stage, and practicing and planning with their band.
Recording is always a fun experience for them as it makes them feel like a "real band" and allows them to hear their own original songs in high quality. They are looking forward to receiving the CDs with all the bands' songs on them in the coming weeks! Practicing on-stage helped them get a feel for playing in front of an audience, and we discussed specifics like stage presence in order to help demystify the showcase and calm any nerves.
Finally, they had some free time to play and socialize in the gym until it was time to go.
We are so incredibly proud of all the work these wonderful young people have done this week! As one instructor said, participating in Girls Rock Camp is like experiencing a three-year band relationship in just five short days. It can be exhausting and stressful at the same time as empowering and inspiring, and we are always amazed when we watch campers work together, support one another, and ultimately overcome the challenges that inevitably surface when navigating the creative process. It is incredible to watch and to see their progress each day as they work towards their performance.
They are smart, impassioned kids. Many of them are already feminists, proclaiming to us when we asked in a workshop about gender roles which activities are for boys vs. for girls that "they can do anything they want" before we even had the chance to get that message across. They know where our society is lacking in terms of representation and acceptance and they are ready to fight for it.
Overall, Athens' music scene will be in good hands when these young people start to make their mark. They are all amazing, and it was an honor to work with them and watch them learn, play, and just have fun throughout this wild week. We are so impressed with the final results as well as with the way that they conducted themselves and collaborated this camp session!
Thank Yous and Extra Information
Every year, Girls Rock Athens is thankful for the support of Athens' Guitar Center and for Athens School of Music. Both donate or allow us to borrow some of their gear during camp weeks, and Athens School of Music has let us use their space for our Ladies Rock Camps in the past. We also have several volunteer instructors who teach lessons at one or both of those places, and we are grateful for all they have done for us over the years! If your child would like to continue learning their instrument of choice, both Guitar Center and the Athens School of Music offer lessons of all styles to all ages and experience levels. The Athens School of Music runs an ensemble program where students can work with a band and perform, and Guitar Center has a music camp in mid-summer.
Girls Rock Athens has other programming throughout the year aside from our summer camp. In the spring, we run a weekend-long Ladies Rock Camp* for adults, and we have various events year-round such as with our GRAY (Girls Rock Athens Youth) Board. We are also laying plans for the future, such as a week-long hip-hop/rap camp with our hip-hop director, Mokah Jasmine Johnson. We are so thankful to her for volunteering at our camp session this summer to teach hip-hop dance routines to our campers!
Hip-hop with Mokah was a favorite among our kids this week! Open registration for Mokah's VIP (Virtuous Intelligent Phenomenal) Girlz Hip-Hop Dance and Leadership Program will begin soon, and the program runs for four months for girls between the ages of 7 and 14. Girls Rock is proud to be affiliated with VIP Girlz and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to integrate the two programs this camp session as well as have Mokah herself come teach. From the VIP Girlz website: "Mokah is a notable entrepreneur, educator, activist and mother; she’s currently the President and co-founder of Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, an organization designed to combat discrimination through education and activism. Mokah is also the VP and co-owner of “United Group of Artists” (UGA Live) a grassroots event promotions company; the founder and program director of VIP Girlz Dance and Leadership program, the Hip Hop Director for Girls Rock Athens; an experienced adult educator and a civil rights advocate whom aims to uplift and inspire others." Apply for VIP Girlz here! Financial aid is available for eligible participants.
*Ladies Rock Camp - Ladies Rock Camp is a program that also functions as a fundraiser. It is a 3 day condensed version of the girls’ camp but for women 18 and over. It usually takes place some time in the spring on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Our first LRC was held in 2015. All positions are volunteer during this week so as much of the tuition paid can go back into the organization, Girls Rock Athens. No experience or personal instruments are needed. The cost is $200 for the session, and because it also functions as a fundraiser, there is no financial aid available. However, if you sign up with a friend, the price is reduced to $150 each, and we can also work with you to create a payment plan. You can sign up on our sign-up page or via paper applications (available at our events or through request to have it mailed to your address).
Future program ideas we hope to bring to our community:
- other genres (electronic, hip hop, acoustic, ukulele)
- after school programming
- one-off weekend day program
- sessions (weekend day for 6? weeks)
- community workshops
- more! input welcome!