Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pittsburgh's Girls of Summer are Ready to Rock

The Girls Rock! Pittsburgh concert is a culmination of a weeklong camp where attendees form bands, write music and generally learn how to be a girl who truly rocks.




photos by amy gabarak

 

Pittsburgh’s most gratifying summer concert experience might be one that takes place not in a club or amphitheatre — but in the auditorium of a grade school.

This month, the spotlight of the Winchester Thurston School stage will shine on 45 girls, ages 8-18, from Girls Rock! Pittsburgh. Their aim is to show that despite what anyone tells them — their parents, their peers, the patriarchy — they’ve got something worthwhile to say, and they know how to get loud about it.

The concert is a culmination of a weeklong camp where attendees form bands, write music and generally learn how to be a girl who truly rocks. 
 


 

“A lot of these kids are middle-school aged, which can be rough,” says Rachel Rosnick, long-time volunteer and board member of the local member of the international Girls Rock Camp Alliance. “But then they have this entire week where people are telling them they can do anything.”

Each day is split among music lessons, band practice and workshops. At the end of the week, each band has written and recorded a song, which they perform Saturday night to a packed house of friends and family as well as an overwhelmingly impressed public. The songs are released as a compilation in the fall and posted on Girls Rock!’s bandcamp page (girlsrockpittsburgh.bandcamp.com)
 


 

According to Rosnick, about half of this year’s campers are new to the program, and many of those girls will be altogether new to playing music. But that doesn’t deter them; on Monday, they’re assigned an instrument and split into bands, mostly by similar skill-level. By Saturday evening’s show, they’re ready to rock.

“The showcase is the most heartwarming thing ever,” says Rosnick. “Especially when you’re there on Monday morning, when the newer kids come in and they’ve never touched an instrument before … and then Saturday we put them on stage in a sold-out auditorium and they just do it.”

Building that confidence in the campers is important to the Girls Rock! mission; it’s not just about guitar licks and sick beats. Throughout the week, campers participate in a variety of workshops designed to inspire, educate and empower. In past years, the sessions — led by female volunteers from the Pittsburgh community — have included screen-printing and zine-making, self-defense, media and body image, the history of women in music and much more. And all of these lessons in self-confidence pay off.
 


 

For volunteer Sofia Sunseri, it’s that freedom of expression and supportive environment that keeps her involved. Not only does she use her skills as a professional voice teacher to give lessons to the girls, but she’s also brought her two daughters along with her as campers.

“My older daughter found what her voice was like and what it looked like for her to be assertive,” she says. “She learned there’s no one way to be a strong girl.”
Sunseri recalls another camper, a first-timer who was initially nervous about singing in front of the crowd.

“It wasn’t about the perfection of the performance,” she says. “It was seeing this kid walk to the stage, grab the mic and go for it.

“A year later, she said that was a real moment in her life, just taking it and saying, even if I make mistakes, I’m going to be loved. I’m going to be celebrated.”

While the camp itself only lasts for five days, the presence of the Girls Rock! organization can be felt all year. Each fall brings a release party for the compilation CD featuring the songs from that year’s camp. And girls who are moved to continue honing their skills can borrow instruments from the program during the school year for a nominal fee. Access and inclusivity is important to the organization; the camp has sliding-scale tuition and no camper is turned away or stigmatized for financial need.
 


 

For the Girls Rock! volunteers, the relationships are often truly reciprocal. Many of the volunteers talk about feeling more confident, empowered and encouraged to make art after experiencing the positive and collaborative environment.

Volunteer drum teacher Jen Porter — who uses her experience as a teacher at Environmental Charter School to help with her camp lessons — credits her involvement with the program in her decision to start her own band, Mani Pedi. 

“I was never in a band. It didn’t seem like an option,” she says of her own teenage experience. “I wouldn’t have started my own band without Girls Rock! To see them be brave and just try things — there’s no right or wrong. They haven’t internalized the rules.”

Members of the public are welcome at the showcase on Aug. 12, but beware: Just like all the other hot tickets in town, this star-studded concert is sure to be standing-room only. 

Saturday, Aug. 12; Winchester Thurston Lower School, 555 Morewood Ave., Shadyside; girlsrockpittsburgh.org
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

First Look: A Sculpture Garden Blooms at Hartwood Acres

Pittsburgh Magazine shares what’s taking shape with the sculpture collection at Hartwood Acres.

The Pittsburgh Team Names That Might've Been

We've known them for decades as the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins, but for a few twists of fate, the closets of dedicated fans could look a lot different.

Register for Pittsburgh-Made Wares for Your Wedding

Downtown shop PG&H will feature locally made bowties, jewelry and more in a bridal trunk show on Thursday.

Watch: Pittsburgh Invites Visitors to Pull Up a Chair

VisitPITTSBURGH unveils its new national marketing campaign designed to capture the welcoming spirit of Pittsburghers. Pull up a chair and take a look.

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Watch: Pittsburgh Invites Visitors to Pull Up a Chair

Watch: Pittsburgh Invites Visitors to Pull Up a Chair

VisitPITTSBURGH unveils its new national marketing campaign designed to capture the welcoming spirit of Pittsburghers. Pull up a chair and take a look.

Comments

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Comments

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

Comments

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

The pop-up laser tag arena takes the mechanics of online video games into a undeniably cool setting.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Comments

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Patience, persistence and taking what the game gives is critical in Round One.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Register for Pittsburgh-Made Wares for Your Wedding

Register for Pittsburgh-Made Wares for Your Wedding

Downtown shop PG&H will feature locally made bowties, jewelry and more in a bridal trunk show on Thursday.

Comments

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

Comments

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

Comments