Murray Atkinson (left) and Rod Alsop are presenting three School of Rock sessions for youth aged 10 to 18 in Ladysmith this August.

For those about to rock

Murray Atkinson and Rod Alsop are offering three School of Rock sessions for youth in Ladysmith this August.

Ladysmith youth are being offered a chance to find their inner rock star this summer during week-long Ladysmith School of Rock sessions.

In August, youth aged 10-18 can learn to play in a band during the week-long sessions and even put on a mini concert for family and friends.

Odds guitarist Murray Atkinson and Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) band teacher Rod Alsop will mentor band members on how to play together as a band. If you play guitar, keyboard (piano/organ), drums or bass, or sing, you are welcome to join.

Atkinson has taught School of Rock programs in Vancouver for about seven years, and he is excited to bring it to his hometown.

“It’s always a blast for the kids to have that opportunity, and why leave those opportunities only in the big cities,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of talent in town. You give the kids the opportunity, and they can amaze you. I think a lot of times, that’s the difference — if the opportunities are there or not. There was nothing like this when I was a teenager growing up in Ladysmith, but if there was, I would have jumped on it.”

When he was thinking about holding a School of Rock in Ladysmith and was looking for a location, Atkinson approached Alsop about hosting the sessions at the school, and Alsop was quick to get on board.

“I just want to support music in Ladysmith,” he said. “What a great opportunity for kids to play and to get excited to play.”

Each School of Rock session is a five-day course Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at LSS with a 45-minute lunch break. Students will be required to bring their own meals and drinks. Each student will also be required to bring their own instruments and amplifiers. Drums may be provided.

There will be room for a maximum of six instrumentalists per group and three singers. The cost is $175 per student (prorated $140 for the week of Aug. 6-9).

Groups will be divided into age categories. Group 1 (10-12 years old) runs from Aug. 6-9, while Group 2 (13-15 years old) runs Aug. 12-16, and Group 3 (16 to 18 years old) runs from Aug. 19-23.

A mini concert will be held on the last day of the camp. Participants are required to have a minimum of one year previous experience playing an instrument.

Learning how to play music with others and gaining a real understanding of what it takes to contribute and be a part of a band is one of the biggest benefits of participating in a program like School of Rock, according to Atkinson and Alsop.

“That’s where you really learn about music, when you learn how to play with other people,” said Atkinson. “You learn how to think on your feet a lot, which forces you to have a better understanding of your instrument because you have to be adaptable. You’re not just sitting at home playing the same thing over and over.”

“There’s something exciting about playing in a rock band,” added Alsop.

Atkinson says School of Rock participants can learn a lot in one week, and seeing them learn and grow is his favourite thing about teaching a program like this.

“By the end of the week, you can see them changing the way they think about their instruments and playing,” he said. “You learn different things playing with people. By the end of the week, they’ve had enough time; it kind of sinks in, and they realize the excitement and the benefits of playing with a group of people.”

Alsop says he is most looking forward to hearing music during the School of Rock sessions.

“I love playing music with kids, and to be able to do it with someone who brings in a different flavour and different set of experience will be fun,” he said of teaching with Atkinson. “I’ll learn too.”

For more information, contact Atkinson at 250-924-8502 or find it on Facebook.