By Elaine Sorrentino
When my boys were in their teens, much of their free time was spent playing rock music with garage bands. One boy played guitar and keyboard, while the other rocked out on drums. I smiled as the house filled with sounds of instruments tuning, amplifiers blaring, and kids expressing themselves musically (and loudly). What I enjoyed most was that they were interacting with their friends on a creative level, and that they respected each other’s artistic opinions. The band was a team, and each player was valued for his contribution to the whole.
As my boys moved into adulthood, the excitement of playing their own original music continued, and they started participating in Battle of the Band competitions, cutting CDs, and playing regularly in nightclubs. I dragged my mother from club to club so she could hear them perform live. At 76, she was always the oldest one there. These weekend musicians barely cleared enough to pay for their own food and drink for the night, but this was not about the money. It was about doing what they loved. Each band member had his own profession outside of music. Gigging was simply what they did for fun.
When I watch South Shore Conservatory (SSC) rock band students perform, I think of my own children, and how grateful I am that they had music in their lives. Through playing rock music, they formed lasting friendships. I watch SSC’s young musicians bond over music in the same way my boys bonded with their friends. The level at which these musicians play is advanced because of the coaching they receive from SSC’s performing educators. These bands have gone out and played at the New World Tavern in Plymouth and the Middle East in Cambridge – quite an accomplishment for young bands, some with members who are as young as 12 and 13 years old.
One of the most exciting young bands at South Shore Conservatory is called Toast. SSC’s only auditioned rock band, Toast is underwritten by the Dave Jodka Scholarship for Future Rockers, funded by proceeds from the Mad Love Music Festival. High school students accepted into this rock band commit to more than one year of weekly ensemble coaching, and learn about everything from recording sessions, songwriting and composition practice, to creation and distribution of merchandise, to booking venues and gigs. And, of course, they are always one of the featured bands at Mad Love. The members of Toast, both past and present, are driven and passionate about learning about all elements of being a professional musician.
High school musicians interested in auditioning for the Dave Jodka Scholarship for Future Rockers and joining Toast should complete the form at https://sscmusic.org/named-scholarships/#jodka, and return it to SSC with a guardian’s signature. Students should also submit a two-minute performance video playing their instrument(s) and/or singing to firstname.lastname@example.org. All application materials are due by May 11, 2018.
For students in middle and high school who are looking for a shorter, more concentrated rock band experience, SSC runs a Jazz/Rock/Pop Summer Camp in its Carr Amphitheater, from August 6-10. This week-long rock band camp is designed to strengthen musicianship skills and teach students how to collaborate with their peers in learning music that ranges from the iconic to the obscure. This is done through engaging songwriting, improvisation and music technology workshops, ensembles masterclasses and performances.
To learn more about South Shore Conservatory rock programs, visit sscmusic.org or call 781-749-7565, x10.
Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.