The Teen Scene
Bellingham Girls Rock Camp
What: "DIY Recording & Songwriting" Teen Workshop Series
WHEN: Wednesdays, Feb. 3-March 31
Cost: Suggested cost is $135; financial aid is available
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
In third grade, I begged my parents to sign me up for violin lessons. I loved the ethereal sounds the instruments made when played and was convinced I’d soon be wowing my family and friends with newfound skills.
That wasn’t the way the scenario played out. Only two months after my folks rented a violin and signed me up for classes at the elementary school, I admitted it wasn’t for me. As the people who had to listen to the unholy screeches emitted when I practiced at home, my parental units nodded their heads in agreement and turned the dastardly device back in.
In fifth through seventh grade, I took weekly piano lessons from an elderly widow who’d sometimes nod off during my mini-recitals. If I was lucky, my mom would stop at McDonald’s afterwards to pick up dinner on the way home, rewarding me for being a middling piano player who put people to sleep. I stayed with it for the occasional Big Mac.
At that point, I wish someone would’ve stepped in and pointed out that although I’d probably never be a multi-instrumentalist performing in vaunted concert halls around the world, it was still possible to be a musician. In particular, I wish the city I grew up in had supported something like the Bellingham Girls Rock Camp, a longtime nonprofit offering teens ages 13 to 17 a way to have their voices heard by using music as a vehicle for both personal and social change.
“Bellingham Girls Rock Camp creates fun and inclusive spaces for girls and queer youth,” their mission statement reads. “We encourage self-empowerment through music and anti-racist action, working together toward collective liberation.”
“We envision a world where music is recognized as both an individual and collaborative tool that illuminates the path to accessible community-based systems rooted in love, transformation, accountability, forgiveness and healing,” they say about their vision. “Youth leadership is encouraged and supported, and our differences are celebrated and acknowledged as strengths, allowing us to work in solidarity to take collective action.”
If given the chance, I would’ve signed up for BGRC’s upcoming “DIY Recording and Songwriting” Teen Workshop Series starting in early February. In the nine-week virtual program, participants in the virtual workshops will learn to write songs using at-home recording techniques, hear about songwriting and do-it-yourself recording with the guidance of local songwriters and audio engineers, and find out more about the basics of the craft where melody, lyric, form and groove are concerned. Students will also learn to use a Digital Audio Workstation as a valuable tool, and discover steps they can take to record at home. By the time they’re done, they’ll have a plethora of newfound skills to share during a virtual showcase.
Because Bellingham Girls Rock Camp is committed to equity and access, organizers will do their best to support those lacking the necessary technology to take part by lending out equipment, offering full and partial financial aid to ensure “all rockstars” can attend camp, and volunteer their time to help teens write their songs.
Maybe if I’d that kind of support when I was a teenager, I would’ve discovered my talents lay more in the making of songs than the playing of instruments, or found an instrument that was better suited to me—even if it was something off the wall like a cowbell or chimes. That said, I don’t think I’ll ever be too old to start a cowbell band. Who’s with me?
Pre-pandemic photo by Kevin Lowdon.
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