Let the Children Jam! Free Music Workshops for Badger Rock and Wright Middle School Students

Let the Children Jam! Free Music Workshops for Badger Rock and Wright Middle School Students 

Badger Rock and Wright Middle School students can learn to play in a pop/rock band! The two Madison middle schools, the Madison Area Music Association (MAMA) and major production (audio/visual) company SOSONIC have joined forces to create an after-school music program for students interested in learning to play an instrument in a “band.”

Originating out of a desire to expand music learning opportunities for students, the 16-week music workshop program began at Badger Rock Middle School in the fall of 2017 with funding from the Rotary Club of Madison West. The program’s initial success has led to its expansion to Wright Middle School for the summer. The new session for Wright Middle School will begin in the Summer of 2018 with additional schools being considered.

“Our mission at the MAMA is to support youth music in the greater Madison area. We’ve put instruments in the hands of hundreds of Madison youth through the years. We’ve provided opportunities for kids to learn to play instruments. Now we’re offering them the chance to learn to play an instrument of their choosing at a pace that is most conducive to their ability, and do it in a group. To make these programs available to students and increase access and opportunity in music education, well, that’s what the MAMA is all about,” said MAMA Executive Director Curt Davies.

Students in the free workshop program learn to play a musical instrument in a fun environment with their friends. The goal of the program is to build a foundation of musical experiences and knowledge through a series of hands-on workshops that explain, demonstrate, and teach the fundamentals of playing music in a pop/rock band format.

The instructors—all of whom are seasoned musicians themselves-lead students through musical exercises designed to provide skills for music theory, song structure, and how to play instruments and sing together cohesively. Students form small “bands,” and instructors work with the individual bands to teach the foundations of playing music as a group.

“We teach them the fundamentals to build a foundation of knowledge that many a local band/artist has: They’re learning about the instruments, the amps, the parts of a drum kit, the different roles each band member plays, how to listen to each other and get on the same creative train, etc.,” explained SOSONIC instructor and local musician Dana Perry.

This program is unique from regular classroom music education in that students are free from the structure and time constraints of sheet music. They learn the songs that they are excited to play and perform.

“We do teach some light basic theory, little bits of chord/rhythm stuff that they would likely learn in any school music program, but what I like most about this is that it’s a program that wasn’t available when I was a kid, and it’s not something that is usually taught within the school. The kids get to play on electric guitars and keyboards, learn from hardworking local musicians, in a space that is used regularly by hardworking local musicians. I think the kids dig that about the program, too,” explained Perry.

Perry added, “I get a lot out of the experience, too. It often reminds me of when I was a kid and falling in love with music. Some of these kids will be musicians for life; we can see the magnetic interest and the fire in them.”

All Badger Rock and Wright Middle School students are invited to participate. Students do not need to know how to play an instrument to participate. All skill levels and all musical instruments are welcome, and SOSONIC provides instruments to use.

Workshops are held at SOSONIC, with chaperoned transportation to and from the workshops provided by Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR). Additionally, a full meal is provided to participating students. Interested students can sign up during their lunch period at their respective schools.