July 13--ATHENS, Ohio -- Inside a refurbished church west of the city core, five budding girl bands frantically rehearsed -- oblivious to the collective clatter they were creating.
Accompanying the discordant, but soon-to-be-refined, mix of riffing guitars and booming drums were the inquisitive squeals of the 22 youths-on-a-mission.
Who should do a solo?
Is anyone writing down the chord progression?
Could I add a rap to the song?
With the creative juices steadily flowing, very little -- snack breaks included -- could deter the rocker wannabes.Time, after all, was of the essence at the Athens Rock Camp for Girls.
With only one week to prepare an original song (and, in several cases, learn how to play an instrument) for a camp-ending performance tonight, artistic differences -- lyrics, choruses and such -- had to be resolved quickly.
"You have to compromise on things," said Sadie Stock, 15. "You're kind of under pressure with only one week."
Although the concert is expected to draw as many as 600 people, the 3-year-old camp concerns more than the musical finale, founder Tessa Evanosky said.
"The focus of the camp is not to write a good song," she said. "It's that girls rock and that you can do this."
The camp, in the Arts/West building, uses music to encourage 12- to 18-year-old females to pursue dreams and support peers.
Evanosky, who plays guitar and handles the sound for several bands, started the program in Athens after reading about a similar camp in Olympia, Wash.
"It bothered me how much the image of 'girl power' had gotten watered down by the media," said Evanosky, who recently moved to Minneapolis but returned to Athens this week for the camp.
"Women are out there playing music, doing their own tech stuff ... and not just doing sexy dances."
Campers -- all from the Athens area -- are required to carry their equipment to inspire self-reliance.
Thirteen-year-old Aleda Quebman, who waited two years for an open camp spot, was surprised to learn more during the week than new guitar chords.
"They teach you how to be yourself and how to be nice to people," she said.
Quebman wrote a song about gay rights with her five-member band, Necessary Redundancy.
"We sounded awesome," guitarist Emersynn McGuire, 14, said during a practice on just their third day together.
Counselors, made up of female rock musicians from throughout Ohio, led instrument lessons and band practices between workshops on self-defense, marketing and stage presence.The girls screened T-shirts and learned to protect themselves from street harassment.
No musical training was required: Band coaches taught guitarists to play a few chords and drummers to keep a beat. Girls with musical experience helped their greener band mates.
The participants were urged to stay cool and carry on when they erred, with the leaders noting that even seasoned rock stars slip up.
Photos of musical stars (Beyonce, Alanis Morissette, Patti Smith and others) lined classroom walls next to posters about voice anatomy and song construction, providing a range of inspiration.
The first item on the agenda for becoming a star: Form a band.
To ease the process, counselors on Sunday -- the opening day -- played different types of music. Any camper who liked a particular kind stepped forward, allowing campers to choose band members with similar tastes.
Each band consisted of at least a guitarist, bass player, drummer and singer. (On her application, each girl had selected the instrument she wanted to play.)
Sadie Stock plays guitar, but she tried drums this week -- her third year at the camp.
Though new to the instrument, she confidently pounded her way for the five-member Fading Gray.Girls also chose group names -- in some cases, the toughest challenge of the week.
"I like the environment it creates for girls to make music without judging each other or holding you back," Stock said.
Effective collaboration became a key camp lesson for 14-year-old guitarist Alana Baldwin, also of Fading Gray.
"Where some bands go wrong," she said, "is they don't know how to communicate."
Even before their first performance tonight, Stock, Baldwin and their band mates were talking about a second one -- possibly at a battle-of-the-bands competition.
Last summer, after attending the camp, Zoe Chase began to write songs. Her mother bought her an electric guitar.
A lover of alternative music, Chase this week joined forces in the band Smolder with a fellow 13-year-old, Tiana Frechette, who favors rap and pop.
"We're all completely different," Chase said, "and it's great to see what we all come up with."& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>
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