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Girls Rock Philly

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Open the door to a school building during the month of August and instead of hearing silence and a few eager teachers buzzing about, the echo of a chorus of drums fills the hallways. The entrancing beat grew louder as I neared a classroom, and I turned the corner to see a room full of young girls passionately drumming along to a rock song barely audible over the speakers.

Girls Rocky Philly, “a non-profit organization presenting Philadelphia’s only rock camp for girls,” teaches girls to seek out their inner rock star. Now in its third year, 30 volunteers are currently teaching 50 girls (ages 9 -17) the fundamentals and the passion in the music world by immersing them in hands-on experiences with guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, DJ’ing and vocals, before forming mini bands in this week long camp held at Girard College. Beyond the chords, the girls gain a true appreciation of the musical journey through workshops, such as the History Of Women In Music.

Beth Warshaw-Duncan, GRP camp director, noted that the mission is to not only provide an atmosphere that allows these girls to express themselves, but to also “create social change through music education.” It is obvious that the mission is in action while peering into classrooms and watching the girls’ eyes light up as they find the right chord or guide one another on DJ equipment. Those responsible for instilling such passion are the dedicated volunteers, who ironically enough give the impression that they’re working behind the scenes at a concert with their name tags, walkie-talkies and colorful T’s.

Watching the girls discover their inner rock star through a classroom window is truly inspiring, although hearing their excitement in their own words captures the raw, creative enthusiasm that buzzes throughout the camp. Jen, a 14 year old camper authentically rocks hers peace sign earrings and pink streaks in hair while spinning albums well before her time, such as Madonna and Prince. A GRP veteran, she’s thrilled to have had the chance to return to camp for a second year and has gained a greater appreciation of “older women in music, like Billie Holiday” in her favorite workshop, History of Women In Music. Above all, Jen has found a true connection with music and performing with fellow GRP campers because it allows, “you to show how you feel. It’s empowering. I get to go out on stage and do my own thing and we support each other.”

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Candid snapshots and snippets of videos of the girls eagerly practicing in their bands shared on the live blog treat outsiders to a sneak peek of creativity at work. Try not to be inspired while watching videos of girls encouraging one another in band practice or sharing musical ideas as their creativity blossoms. Watch them turn their life experiences into drum beats and lyrics as they openly express themselves and the power of music unites them.

The week long camp culminates with a live performance, where this year’s 10 bands will share their original songs with an audience much larger than their counselors. New to this year’s performance is the camp song that will bring the entire group of girls to the stage to sing in unison. Although if you find yourself amongst the unfortunate few unable to experience the raw, passionate musical talent, you may be happy to know that this year “GRP will also take camper bands into a professional recording studio to create a compilation CD, thanks to a grant from The Mockingbird Foundation.”

Girls Rock Philly replaces the common popsicle sticks in most camps’ Arts and Craft workshops with empowering drum sticks. Camp songs quietly sang around the fire are transformed into girls rocking out on stage belting honest words and true emotions. GRP is truly creating unforgettable summer memories and instilling powerful rhythms that will surely last these girls a lifetime.

 

Girls Rock Philly Final Live Performance

Saturday, August 8th 6pm

Girard College, 2101 South College Avenue (enter at Girard and Corinthian Ave)

Admission $5

For more info visit www.girlsrockphilly.org or call 215.789.4879