How many female musicians do we see actively performing on campus in student bands? It’s an intriguing question that was brought up in the Music and Diversity lunch event in early October. During this event, students came together to discuss the culture of music on campus and its accessibility.

Photo by Heather Browne
Photo by Heather Browne

“There aren’t enough opportunities to perform live,” complained one student.

“There isn’t a space other than open mic night for musicians to meet,” added another.

Eventually, the discussion came to the conclusion  that in some sense, opportunities are lacking and music is not as accessible to students as we may want to believe.

Where do you start if you have no performance experience? How do you build your career as a musician? Where are there spaces to practice?

These ideas and concerns eventually grew into something substantial in the form of Musicians’ Boot Camp that was offered as a dynamic half-block that students could take in addition to or as their main seminar.

Organized and taught by Heather Browne, the Assistant Director of Off Campus Study,  this workshop addressed many of the ideas that were brought up in the lunch event. It allowed for students to not only engage in performance but also to learn a few ins and outs of the music experience that may not be offered as courses at the college.

Photo by Heather Browne
Photo by Heather Browne

Songwriting and creativity, home and studio recording, live sound production, screen-printing and show promotion were among the topics covered in the two-week period.

These workshops were then intertwined with panels such as music and visual representation in videos and also intertwined with an “open jam” studio time. After a few full days of learning and jamming, the workshop culminated in a final open mic performance at The Wild Goose Meeting House on Tejon Street.

Ultimately, it seems that there is still progress to be made on campus towards more informal music accessible and creating a space for it to grow and thrive. The Carriage House is not accessible as it once was for musicians, thus performance and practice spaces are limited on campus.

Even so, when Battle of the Bands comes around we witness many different groups and bands come together that many have never seen perform before. People are definitely making music but a lot of times we do not witness it and when there are only a few spots for student bands to perform at large scale events, it causes the overall exposure to be relatively low.

However, it does seem that with a little bit of a push things can get done and conversations can turn into action as evidenced by the Musician’s Boot Camp. That’s just the first step and if we really want to provide more opportunities for musicians and enhance the current music culture, we can.

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