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Wednesday, October 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Mama Madison: There are music lessons, and then, there's Rock Camp
One's a drag. The other isn't.
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Piano just didn't stick for my daughter. I got so tired of negotiating practice times (30 minutes of scales=one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place) and dreading recitals (yes, it is possible to screw up "Lightly Row" in two consecutive performances) that, when she said she was ready to quit after little more than a year of lessons, I couldn't have been happier.

The story went pretty much the same for my sons with their guitar and bass lessons. And so went my hopes of raising the contemporary (and much smaller) version of the Osmonds.

But a year ago last spring my daughter came home from school and announced, quite loudly, that she was ready to try an instrument again, this time the drums. And while I was still pretty gun shy about going the full-on instruction route, I did allow her to sign up for a session of Girls Rock Camp , the one-week day camp held at the Madison Waldorf School on the city's west side.

It all seemed innocent enough. She'd spend five days during the hottest days of summer in an air-conditioned environment tinkering with the cymbals and snare. Maybe she'd meet some nice new girls. And realize that she wasn't longed to be a pop star, after all.

But I learned my lesson. Never sign your child up for an activity in hopes that she might "get it out of her system."

Instead my daughter was smitten. Not just by the drums (more on that later), but also by the entire creative experience, which is nothing short of miraculous. In just one week, the campers, ages 8 to 18, are divided into bands, assigned an instrument which it's entirely possible, like my daughter, they've never laid hands on before, write a song (both music and lyrics), and record it.

Finally, as a highlight, they get the chance to perform their finished work in front of a live audience at a showcase at the Goodman Center Loft.

My daughter learned so much at Girl Rock -- and not just how to twirl drumsticks and keep the beat. She also learned how to resolve creative differences between her and her band mates (she wanted to pen dark and brooding lyrics, they something far more age appropriate which included the words "sunshine and puppies" in the refrain).

She learned that nobody gets it right on the first take and that it's not rock n roll heresy to smile in your band poster. She also learned that a great artist couldn't possibly perform without just the right amount of glitter in her hair.

But most importantly she learned that rocking out on the drums is totally fun. And yes, we did start drum lessons shortly after with a terrific teacher at the Madison Music Foundry. And while I still have to nudge her to practice on the rented drum pads she keeps in her room (we haven't yet made the commitment, financial, space or noise-wise, to the real thing), she's still jamming, almost a year later.

My daughter giddily returned to her second year of Girls Rock Camp just this past week. And even though it was new band members and a new song (she felt satisfied this one was angst-ridden enough), lightning did strike twice. She's already brainstorming band names for Girls Rock -- take three -- next summer.

And while I've never played an instrument in my life, I have to say; the whole thing is pretty darn inspiring. So inspiring, in fact, I'm giving some serious thought to participating in Ladies Rock Camp, the weekend long version for (much) older girls, this coming fall.

You've all seen the viral Granny Drummer video, right? No reason that can't be me in a few years.

So move over Sheila E. -- Sari J. may be coming soon to a venue near you. If you happen to live close to my garage. And I've forgotten about the whole next Osmond thing. I'm now thinking more Partridge Family. You know, because the mom gets to be in the band.

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