If you build it, they will, apparently, rock. Even as guitar-based rock faded in the mainstream, an educational infrastructure teaching kids how to play it has flourished over the course of this century. Options range from the for-profit School of Rock chain (which existed prior to the Jack Black-helmed movie) to dozens of rock summer camps across the country, a lot of them aimed at girls — Tegan and Sara, Haim and many others have raised money for the Girls Rock Camp Foundation.
It probably shouldn’t be surprising that all that schooling has begun producing actual rock stars: Two of 2018’s hottest indie acts, Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail, are rock-camp veterans. Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, 19, started out at a now-defunct rock camp at age seven, becoming wildly competitive with “boys who wrote me off because I was a girl.” Jordan became “kind of a shredder” on guitar, learning to blaze through highly technical songs she hated – including Eric Johnson’s super-tricky “Cliffs of Dover,” which she can still play — to prove herself, an exercise she rather regrets. “Music shouldn’t be competitive,” she says.
Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison, 21, went to Summer Girls Rock Camp in Tennessee, starting at age 10. “I loved it,” says Allison, who branched out from guitar there, learning to play drums and arrange songs, covering the White Stripes and Coldplay. “My first year, I was in bands with 17-year-olds. And then after that, I started slowly getting friends to come to the camp with me.” The girls-only aspect helped, she adds: “It was a really good energy throughout the whole camp. It didn’t make you have to feel nervous about being a girl in a class and people thinking you were gonna suck. It was a really good, nurturing environment.”
Jordan has one regret: “I wish I’d known about Girls Rock Camp. I think that would have given me a lot of confidence and infrastructure to be a well-functioning adult.”