- Photo by Jen Cray for Orlando Weekly
- The 2019 Girls Rock Camp Showcase at Will’s Pub
Times are tough right now for live local music, and unfortunately that goes for the Orlando Girls Rock Camp too. Holding this summer’s camp and (even more sadly) their usually raucous showcase gig in-person was out of the question, but the local Girl Rock organizers decided to go for it anyway, moveing the entire camp online.
“For the past two weeks we have been meeting with our campers via Zoom for a few hours each day. During the course of camp we have focused on instrument instruction, band formation, writing original songs, and various life skills workshops,” explains OGRC organizer Monique Smith. “The added challenge that we decided to give ourselves this year, being that our music creation would be mostly on a digital platform, was to ask the campers to include a visual presentation – a music video, some art, a logo, whatever they wanted – to go along with their original song!”
So this year’s class of campers and counselors got to work at a distance, holding daily Zoom sessions, collaborating, teaching, learning, listening and creating new connections and friendships, even with the added challenge of the digital divide.
“We definitely had a couple of challenges along the way, internet connectivity and navigating the platform to name a few. But honestly the biggest challenge that we had to overcome was just being brave enough to try it and embrace the uncertainty of what it would look like! Once we got over that fear and just did it, we started to realize how awesome it was going to be,” says Smith.
- Photo courtesy OGRC/Facebook
- Zoom workshop during this year’s online Girls Rock Camp
“We think in some ways the digital camp experience taught us so many lessons about how we operate our camp in general. Like for example, using Band Lab – an app for recording and producing music – for campers to collaborate with each other and record songs kind of helped us break out of the box of the standard ‘rock and roll’ sounds. Typically the bands have a bassist, a singer, a drummer, and at least one guitarist. But this year, with all of these different, cool sounds and MIDI instruments pre-loaded on this app, campers were able to explore a whole world of different sounds and genres that we normally couldn’t help them replicate with just our standard instruments and gear.”
The culminating Girls Rock Showcases are always a celebration, a testament to new friendships and the unique joys of collaboration and making a loud noise all your own. This year’s, event, we think, will be particularly meaningful. This group of girls and non-binary youth made the best of a bad situation, and still threw themselves into making music all their own.
“The campers had so much fun and they felt so empowered that they could actually publish their own original content! I think we are going to incorporate recording and producing in camp going forward, because they loved it so much!” says Smith. “We are also planning on scheduling regular meetups – via Zoom – throughout the school year so that we can all stay in touch with our campers and give them a chance to hang out with each other.”
The future of music in Orlando starts here.
Orlando Girls Rock Camp Virtual Showcase is, Saturday, Aug. 1 at noon on Zoom. Follow the Facebook event page for details. The show is free but consider donating to OGRC.
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