Picture this: It’s 2008. You are sitting on the couch during family movie night. You place the DVD that your mom let you rent from Family Video. It’s School Of Rock. You grow envious of the kids who get to skip math and history to play a musical instrument. What if I told you this could be a reality?
I recently participated in my own Rock Workshop program through a local music studio in my town called Madison Music Foundry. This program is offered to both kids and adults. First, they match you with people with similar experiences and musical tastes. From there, they pair you with a trained instructor. You will complete a total of 10 sessions — two of them are recording sessions and the last one is a live performance.
It was my third session, but this program is many people’s first time being in a band.
It introduces them to the highs and lows of being in a rock band with a bunch of random strangers you just met. Some bands built in Rock Workshop become successful local bands in the city. However, this isn’t always guaranteed, and sometimes it’s just an experience. Regardless, you will always leave Rock Workshop learning something and feeling inspired to channel that creativity into other places.
I chose to do vocals as I’m an aspiring singer-songwriter. Then, I completed a placement audition and was paired with four other members to create a band: keys, bass, guitar, and drums. I worked with one of them previously in a past Rock Workshop, and the other three were attending their first-ever Rock Workshop. This meant that I had an obligation to show them how much fun Rock Workshop was. However, this became harder for me as we had a member who lacked collaboration and teamwork skills.
While writing our first song, this member had a different idea of how they wanted it to go.
This caused us to fall behind as this member felt he could interject his ideas. When other members would try to propose something else, he would interrupt them and start playing his idea on his instrument to prove he was right. This caused many issues with lyric writing as I would go home from rehearsals without being clear on the structure of our song.
Despite the issues we faced with composing, we finally made it to our first recording session with a full song. Our recording session lasted longer than usual because this bandmate argued with the sound engineer and other bandmates about how the song sounded. My voice began to strain because of how many times we had to run through the song. Because of that, I was advised to step out of the booth while the band worked on the instrumental parts. Later, I would go back into the booth and record vocals over the track. However, this got even more complicated as the bandmate kept on arguing about other things, making the process much more difficult.
At this point, I knew our band wouldn’t last beyond the workshop.
I went into Rock Workshop with the idea that this would be my opportunity to have a professional band. But I had to put my feelings aside and make sure the rest of the band had a good experience at the Rock Workshop. This meant that I had to confront what was happeningn, which was hard for me as I’ve always had a hard time with confrontation.
I sent a very lengthy email to our band following the recording session, suggesting ideas we could try to boost our teamwork skills, such as deciding things on a unanimous vote. From that point on, the rest of the members began to feel more comfortable pitching ideas. It still wasn’t perfect, but it started to feel like a typical workshop I’d experienced before. That made me happy since I wanted everyone to feel the same joy I had in the past two workshops.
After that, we survived another recording session and wrote two other songs.
Before I knew it, we made it to the showcase. Our performance went ten times better than I would’ve expected in the beginning. Despite a couple of mistakes, we managed to stay in time, and the audience was just soaking it in. We received a lot of cheers and applause, with even one person asking to take a picture with us after our set! We had the total rockstar experience!
As you may have guessed, our band didn’t continue beyond this point. So I didn’t exactly get what I wanted from the workshop. However, I was able to build a couple of new connections that might help me with a new band project I’m working on. This experience also taught me a valuable lesson about collaboration. Overall, I’m very happy about this year’s workshop and what it taught me.
If you are interested in having an experience in a rock band, I highly recommend trying a rock workshop. There are many programs in the United States, such as the School of Rock and Ladies Rock Camp! Who knows, maybe you could start a program at your local music school!