Dinuka Cooray '20 | August 13, 2018
Growing up, I always wanted to learn how to play the drums. With limited access to instruments and with the notion in mind that “drums are for boys,” I never considered truly pursuing this skill. Earlier this month, however, I had the immense joy of watching young women creatively flourish at a new, revolutionary camp called Girls Rock Michiana.
In this two-day camp, a group of about 30 girls in grades 4-8 had the opportunity to sing and rock out on the electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and keyboard with the guidance of professional music instructors. It took place at The Music Village in downtown South Bend under the direction of Carolina Warkentin and with the collaboration of Notre Dame’s Gender Studies Program.
Dr. Mary Celeste Kearney, director of the Gender Studies Program and associate professor in Film, Television, and Theatre, was a driving force in starting the camp. Kearney — who published her latest book, Gender and Rock, before beginning her first year as Gender Studies director last fall — came across the Girls Rock Camp Alliance while researching one of her previous books. The organization operates more than 100 camps around the world for girls who want a bit of hands-on experience with rock ‘n’ roll, but, when Kearney discovered the group, none of their camps were near South Bend. Along with several students from her “Gender and Rock Culture” course, she decided to change that. Together with the South Bend music community, they recruited students, forged a partnership with Music Village executive director Josh Aerie, and drummed up funds and publicity. Before long, Girls Rock Michiana was born.
Kearney says that, given the state of the music industry, initiatives like these are crucial.
“Anything that has major creative control, like the director of a film, or a record producer — and more importantly any position that is very profitable, very lucrative — women have been kept out of,” she says.
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