Turns out, the girls and the ladies wanna rock.
Ladies Rock – a rock-and-roll band camp for grown women – is an offshoot of Girls Rock MKE which has affiliate camps in 40 other cities and started locally in the summer of 2013. Ladies Rock started in 2015 and will have another session March 11-13, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts.
The Ladies Rock camp takes place all day on Friday and Saturday and on the afternoon of Sunday. Plus, there’s a kick-off on Thursday nights where the participants meet each other and form their bands as well as an end-of-camp showcase on Sunday night.
Registration for Ladies Rock is now open.
To participate, women must be at least 21 years old. No experience playing an instrument is required. In fact, women do not even have to own an instrument – Ladies Rock can provide one if need be.
Ladies Rock will accept 30 women into the program who will be divided into six bands of five members. The tuition is $200, but the program offers a limited amount of financial assistance.
"We don't want the cost to be a deterrent," says Ron Starke, who is the camp director for the Ladies Rock program as well as the managing director for the Girls Rock program. "I've loved music since I was a kid listening to my older brother's KISS records. Thankfully, my taste improved and have I immersed myself in music for most of my life by working in a record store, playing in bands and writing songs."
Starke says he was never a "natural" musician which is part of his draw to the program.
"I still struggle playing guitar which is why these programs spoke to me. Don't let the lack of ability get in the way of creating something that matters to you," he says.
Participants get a crash-course in their instruments starting the first day, followed by two sessions of instrument instruction by volunteer musicians.
"The nice part is they get to implement what they learned in their band practice sessions that last all afternoon so they really get in some quality practice time," says Starke.
Starke says the experience is about more than music – it’s about self discovery, too.
"We had one lady rocker who learned that she loved playing with her band but didn't like performing on stage," says Starke. "I think this self-realization is exactly what this program is about. Finding the courage to take on and follow through with the challenges of the program will hopefully let the person learn new things about what she can do and what she wants to do."
Starke says all of the bands from the first session have stayed in touch, and a few still play together.
"It blows my mind. They all reunited to play this summer at Chill on the Hill," says Starke. "Many of them became involved as volunteers for the program, which is the best compliment."
Starke says volunteering at Ladies Rock is a great way to get involved, particularly for women who are on the fence about enrolling as a rocker.
"I strongly believe that this will be a memorable and inspiring experience for everyone involved," he says. "Lady Rockers and volunteers alike had a great time at the first camp and formed some lasting friendships. They all felt excited and proud of themselves, especially since they got to perform in front of their families and friends at the showcase."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.