The Morning Star’s FELICITY COLLIER investigates a charity that's making some noise
GIRLS ROCK LONDON was set up as a charity project two years ago as a way of boosting the confidence of girls and women, aged 11 years and beyond.
Voluntarily run and self-funded, the organisation runs regular summer camps at schools and colleges around Hackney in east London, where girls and women can freely pick up instruments such as guitar and drums, learn and improve their skills, write a song and form a band in a short space of time.
It’s less about becoming experts and more about giving women the sense that they are entitled to make music, of building confidence and working in a positive, supportive community, co-founder Gez Smith tells the Star.
“It’s a political act to get women on stage, for their voices to literally be heard,” says Smith. “The performance part is the most important.”
Music-making gives teenagers in particular a massive confidence boost, she says, especially when they have lost their self-esteem. The project wants to also encourage and empower older women “who think they’ve missed their chance,” says Smith.
The ethos behind Girls Rock London is “you can’t be what you can’t see,” so its teachers and facilitators are all women, although men are also involved in fundraising and other aspects.
Smith points out that music as an industry tends to be dominated by men, both backstage and onstage. “It’s a very gendered scenario,” she says.
Government cuts to music lessons in schools mean projects like this are all the more valuable.
“The schools we’re working with are doing their best to keep music, but the government don’t care,” says Smith.
“Young people are not getting music education relevant to them — or anything at all, sometimes.”
Girls Rock London provide equipment and an experienced team of coaches — although it costs to join their rock camps, all funds raised go back into future projects.
Girls Rock London welcomes all who self-identify as girls, women, trans or gender non-conforming.
Judi Hench, one of the first bands to come out of Girls Rock London, will be playing a fundraiser gig at DIY Space for London in Bermondesy on March 25.
The next rock camp takes place at Halley House School in Hackney on May 26-29.