‘Girls Rock!’ empowers

Local musicians start program for girls, taking on male-dominated genre


Robinson and junior Crosby Dold practice with their band, The Valkyries, at St. John’s Catholic school during camp. Photo courtesy of ohsnaphoto.com

By Kira Auchenbach

The crowd files into The Bottleneck on a Saturday evening, ready to rock. The main lights dim and spotlights hit the stage. The band comes out and the crowd roars as they tune their instruments. The lead singer, Iris Hyde steps up to the microphone.

Her band, the Valkyries, just started a week ago and is composed of teenage girls.

Hyde introduces the band and then starts singing an original song. The theme? Female empowerment.
“It was a song called ‘Labels,’ ” junior Girl’s Rock! camp member Crosby Dold said. “The message is ‘Your words don’t hurt me.’ ”

Twenty-one girls, including three from LHS, spent the first week of June at Girl’s Rock! music camp. In five days time, the 11- to 15-year-old girls learned about their instruments, formed bands and wrote their own music in preparation for a final performance at the Bottleneck.

Camp directors Angie Schoenherr, Kelly Nightingale, Monica George and Sally Sanko started the program to create an environment for girls to express themselves through music as well as empower them in the male-dominated genre of rock.

“[We want the girls to have] self-confidence and the mentality that they are capable of anything,” George said. “Whether or not they decide to continue music, we wanted to make sure that they were able to gain the life skills to navigate as an equal in society. We wanted them to have a voice and not doubt their own creativity and opinions because of social and peer forces.”

Learning about rock music from women gave campers a unique outlook on the genre.

“We had performers during lunch, and it was all women performers and only women taught us, and it was really weird because I’ve never known another girl that plays guitar,” freshman Inez Robinson said. “So it was like a bunch of cool moms teaching us how to play punk rock music, and it was a lot of fun.”

The girls met each other that week and immediately had to start working together.

Girls brought their own talents and experiences to camp and were grouped into bands accordingly by age. For the Valkyries, Dold played electric guitar and sang, and Robinson played electric guitar.

“We just kind of started from scratch,” said Robinson, who played electric guitar in the Valkyries. “We had to introduce ourselves because we didn’t know each other,”

But they quickly bonded as the wrote songs together, rehearsing with their bands for two or three hours of the overall eight-hour camp day. They also had to learn to embrace different styles.

“Well for us, we had so many different people, like genre wise,” Robinson said. “Like Crosby likes Broadway, Iris likes Indie, and I like punk rock, and we ended up kind of making this. It sounded more Indie actually, and it was just about women.”

George said it was important for the girls to write their own songs.

“It was important to us to give the campers creative freedom so they felt that they have a voice,” she said.
For the Valkyries, the writing process was more intense than they had expected. They only had five days to compose and practice their song before performing live at The Bottleneck.

“The first day we made a song and then ditched it,” Robinson said. “The second day, we made another song and then halfway through we had to ditch it again. And so we basically spent four hours — not in a row — making the song, writing the lyrics and then performing it over and over again.”

The girls left Rock Camp with new friends and understanding about themselves as musicians.

“It really gave me a starting point because we got to perform at the Bottleneck,” Robinson said.