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The Flip Side

So now we move from a world of unfortunate kids who are locked up, to the world of Rock Camp where kids are dropped off by mom or dad in their SUV's, with guitar case in hand.


Rock Camp was held during summer and school holidays. It provided educational opportunities related to the business of music through visits from professionals who shared their expertise, and field trips to places such as a recording studio. But its main purpose was stated at the end of each daily morning gathering with the camp director's query "Are you ready to rock?" This was our cue to head for our rehearsal classrooms with anywhere from four to six students to work up a repertoire of cover or original rock tunes.


Most of these kids were beginners with very limited training or experience under their belts who were there for the opportunity of performing at a community venue in front of a live audience. The first thing that needed to be done in rehearsal after tuning up was to try and create some semblance of a reasonable volume level with a balance that allowed everyone to hear everyone else without continually cranking up the volume to 10. Once this level was established, the trick was to hold on to it. Then came the serious business of actually learning your part by ear and playing it in time with others.


The live public performances at the end of each camp session generally turned out to be a very positive and enjoyable experience. But from an educational standpoint I feel each student might have reached a higher level if group rehearsals were augmented with specialized seminars for aspiring guitarists, bassists, drummers, keyboardists, singers, arrangers and engineers. It was the lack of formalized skill building that led some students to assert themselves by cranking up the volume, and me to lose my interest in Rock Camp. I really wanted to help these kids learn to play, but the difficulty of trying to bridge the disparity in their playing levels and risking my hearing were not sacrifices I was willing to make.

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