Q&A: Grrrls Rock Columbus

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From the July 10, 2014 edition

The women behind Grrrls Rock Columbus Music and Creative Arts Camp are ready to show Columbus what it really means to “play like a girl.”

The camp will provide 12-18-year-old girls the opportunity to channel their inner rock star with six days of instrumental instruction, songwriting, creative workshops and confidence building, culminating with a camper-driven concert at The Garden Theater on Aug. 9. The group plans to show campers and everybody else that creative expression isn’t gender-specific. We spoke with organizers Caitlin McGurk, Marlena Bowen and Lindsey Gibson (additional organizers are Meg Murnane, Meg Zakany, Emily Cline, Rachel Lee and Mickey Mocnik) about the camp.

Women are typically marginalized in our society, and as a musician I’ve experienced that first hand. I walked into a [music store] to buy an amp, knowing exactly which one I wanted, and the sales guy said, “That one is probably too heavy for you.” We want to show girls they, too, can do whatever they want to do, including starting their own band. Grrrls Rock Columbus is about empowerment. The 12-18 age range is an important time for development, and we want our campers to feel they are able to do whatever they want. We are so excited to have girls participate, we’ve extended enrollment until we are completely full. I believe women are the future of rock. —Marlena Bowen

Women often get pigeon-holed into playing more “delicate” instruments. I remember a day at school when we were asked to list three instruments we wanted to play; I wrote “drums” three times. My dad scratched it out and wrote flute, clarinet and oboe. Why could boys have drum kits, but girls had to play “prettier” instruments? There is nothing wrong with wanting to play a flute or an oboe, but I wanted to learn drums, and there was a stigma attached to it because I’m a woman. At [Grrrls Rock Columbus Music and Creative Arts Camp] we want to show girls they can choose for themselves. We are trying to keep things as open as possible and let the campers make their own decisions. Whatever role they want to play within the band they form at camp, or whatever genre of music they want to play, we will fully support them. —Caitlin McGurk

Attending a rock camp at 12 years old would have changed my life. I am classically trained on the flute, and though I love to play it now, I hated it growing up. I assumed [classical training] was the only way to learn an instrument. It wasn’t until I became acquainted with Columbus’ local rock scene that I realized it didn’t have to be that way. You can just pick up an instrument and mess around until you figure it out. I wish something like this would have been available to me when I was growing up. If I would have gone to rock camp and been told I could play guitar, it would have changed my life. —Marlena Bowen

Grrrls Rock Columbus isn’t just about music instruction. So many of [the Grrrls Rock Camp organizers] are inspired by the local music scene, we wanted to incorporate all the facets of being in an actual band into the camp’s curriculum. Though most of the time will be spent with their instruments, we are also holding workshops on equipment handling, media literacy, zine writing, creative writing and self-defense. We want it to be more than just instruction; we want to provide another way for girls to participate in creative endeavors and learn how to work together. —Lindsey Gibson

Photo by Meghan Ralston