A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rock On, Girls!

Hey, girls. Remember the column I wrote last March about an upcoming event at Berkeley High called JazzGirls Day?
A lot of you took me up on it, and apparently you had the time of your lives. I got email after email, from both kids and parents, and they couldn't stop raving about the experience.
"It was awesome!" said one girl.
"I thought I was the only girl who liked jazz," said another. "It was so great to find out I'm not alone."
Well, if one day was so much fun, how'd you like to do it for a whole week?
Many of the same musicians who taught at JazzGirls Day will also be teaching at the 5th annual Jazzschool Girls' Jazz & Blues Camp, which will take place at the Jazzschool in downtown Berkeley from August 5-9. And every teacher is a woman who is making a professional career in jazz.
"That's important," says the camp director, saxophonist/drummer Jean Fineberg, co-founder – along with trumpeter Ellen Seeling - of the Montclair Women's Big Band and the Girls' Jazz Camp. "Girls need role models to make them realize that they can do it, too."
And that can be very empowering.
"My daughter LOOOVED camp and is now confident enough to join her school jazz band," said one mom.
A grandmother said, "My granddaughter came home excited and happy every day and now sees herself as a musician as a place in the world."
The camp runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 5-9, with a concert, when the girls show off all the stuff they've learned, on Friday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m.
One of the highlights of each day is the lunch break, when the teachers and students get together in the courtyard for a jam session.
Tuition: $450 if you pay before June 1, $475 afterwards. Some financial aid may be available. If you're an out-of-towner, housing with a local family may be available, too.
All girls grades 6 through 12 are eligible. All you need is some proficiency on your instrument – except singers, who can be newbies – and a desire to develop your skills in a fun environment with other girls.
The first step is registering online at jazzschool.org/girlsreg, where you'll find more information and tell them about your elective preferences.
Then call the Jazzschool at 510-845-5373 to pay and reserve your spot. You'll be contacted to schedule a short, friendly audition (voluntary for singers) to evaluate your skill level and place you in appropriate ensembles, including jazz, blues/soul and Big Band.
You'll also be offered a choice of electives, including improvisation, percussion, Latin music, pop music choir and songwriting.
Finally, each camper will be given a 30-minute private lesson.
Don't be scared by the prospect that you might not know anybody going in. On Monday morning Fineberg always says, "Everybody who doesn't know anybody raise your hand." And almost every hand in the room goes up.
But by Friday, those strangers will have formed lasting friendships based on mutual interests and mutual support. And that can be a real eye-opener.
"After I played my solo, all the girls in the band clapped for me," said one girl after last year's camp. "AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW ANY OF THEM!"

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