July 25--While some musicians spend years gaining popularity before they perform at major summer music festivals, high schoolers Keeanna Martinez and Eric Meyers decided to hit the fast-forward button.
The two musicians, students at Broomfield's School of Rock, were chosen from 17,000 students around the country to join an all-star band playing at Lollapalooza this week. Martinez and Meyers are among the top 1.5 percent of School of Rock students who made the cut.
School of Rock is an after-school music program that teaches youths how to master instruments such as guitar, drums, keyboards and bass while practicing for live performances.
The national School of Rock AllStars tour hand-picks the best musicians to form bands and play at Lollapalooza and other venues across the country as part of the Love Hope Strength Tour, a partnership with the Love Hope Strength Foundation, an international, music-centric cancer charity.
Lollapalooza, a Chicago music festival that boasts headliners such as Eminem, Outkast, Skrillex and The Avett Brothers, can draw as many as 300,000 music lovers, according to Reuters.
That exposure is huge for Martinez and Meyers, who showed up at their regular band practice on Tuesday with a sense that the Lollapalooza trip is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain exposure, wow crowds and have fun.
"This is going to be awesome. I'm pumped. I'm psyched," said Meyers, a 17-year-old senior at Holy Family who honed his guitar skills at School of Rock.
Martinez, 18, who just graduated from The Academy in Westminster, said she also is incredibly excited about the tour. Being part of the AllStars group has given her perspective on the amount of work it takes to stand out in the music world.
The tour "will help me move out of my comfort zone," she said.
During practice, the two did a run-through of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." Martinez crooned and shook a tambourine as she danced around the practice studio. Meyers jammed through a guitar solo and played a few notes using his mouth.
The musicians, who leave Saturday for Chicago, were already dedicated to their craft before learning they would be going on the AllStars tour. As members of School of Rock's house band, made up of the school's most talented musicians, they have already performed at major local venues, such as Red Rocks.
Martinez estimates she spends about nine hours a week practicing her vocals, while Meyers said he describes his practice routine as "non-stop guitar."
Despite their talent and commitment, both of the Broomfield students are relatively new to their craft.
Two years ago, Martinez started honing her vocal skills by singing at her church.
Meyers, who started playing guitar when he was 14, was more accustomed to rocking out on his guitar in his bedroom than performing on stage.
Now, both say they want to pursue music degrees and continue making music throughout their lives.
School of Rock was a major part of considering music as a future goal, they said.
Before coming to School of Rock about a year ago, Meyers said he was a "shredder type of guy," who liked to play fast but needed some guidance to sharpen his skills, he said.
After coming to School of Rock, "I've become a smarter and better physical player than a year ago," he said.
Though the students started their performance experience by playing locally, often in smaller venues, Broomfield School of Rock music director Deniz Davis said he is proud to see Martinez and Meyers move forward with their passions.
"I can't wait to watch our students rock their hearts out on stage as they join forces with the AllStars as one big School of Rock family," Davis stated in a news release.
Dustin Risley, a studio coordinator for School of Rock, said the students who come to the Broomfield location each day are excited to learn and grow together, regardless of their skill level.
Peer support is critical to nurturing more young musicians, and some might find themselves playing at another big concert venue in the future.
"I've never seen kids picked on or ostracized here," Risley said. "Their love of music, their creativity, is so non-judgemental."
Contact Enterprise Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or email@example.com
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