For the past week, 19 young female musicians have called the Blumenthal’s Stage Door Theater their home.
Every morning, the novice musicians, ages 10 to 16, at Girls Rock! Charlotte arrive between 8 and 9 a.m. ready to rock with their volunteer music teachers and camp counselors. They yell their call-and-response mantra: “What’s your instrument? It’s my voice!”
In its first year, Girls Rock! Charlotte is a part of a national movement to empower young girls through music lessons, band practices and workshops on various topics. The girls will show off the culmination of their week’s work at their rock concert Friday night in the Stage Door Theater.
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The week’s project was a big one. In five days, they would learn the basics of a musical instrument of their choice – either the keyboard, drums, bass, guitar or vocals – write a new song with their bandmates and get it performance-ready.
“A fair number of them came in and they didn’t know each other,” said Kelly Finley, co-director of the Charlotte camp. “Now by the end of the week, they’re best friends and talking and giggling and having a good old time.”
By Thursday afternoon’s rehearsal, bands such as The Ragdolls and The Hometown Heroes performed like seasoned rock stars. The girls sang songs about self-empowerment, and everyone in the room cheered them on – even when some forgot their lines or missed a beat.
For 13-year-old Hannah Bauerle, learning how to play the drums has been fun, but she’s enjoyed meeting girls who are just like her a whole lot more.
“Every young girl should have something like Girls Rock! because it’s helpful,” she said. “Everyone here is looking for a confidence boost and also wanting to play instruments.”
For the first year, Finely and Shannon Bauerle, co-director and Hannah Bauerle’s mom, tried to keep the camp small so they weren’t overwhelmed. Next year, they’re planning on having up to 30 girls at the Blumenthal.
“All these girls have a common struggle – lack of self-esteem, confidence – and they’re able to be in a safe place where they can open up,” Shannon Bauerle said. “Before they know it, they’re not alone anymore. They feel like they can really talk about what’s going on with them and they feel like they can build an action plan, and they leave here rock stars.”