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Summer Camp Rocks for Musically Inclined Teens - 2003-08-19

Many American youngsters spend some time at summer camp, where they enjoy quiet pastimes like canoeing and hiking. One summer camp offers louder activities for youngsters with an interest in rock and roll.

Or heavy metal or blues, for that matter, says Bryan Wrzesinski, executive director Power Chord Academy, which held a recent session in Los Angeles. "It's a one-week crunch course music program for teenager musicians, 12 to 18. They get the best of both worlds," he says. "They get to play in a band the whole week, record a CD, make an MTV video, play a couple of concerts, meet a touring band."

Mr. Wrzesinski, a professional rock musician, says 150 students at the summer music camp attend three seminars a day on subjects like songwriting, putting a band together and recording. The program covers nearly all kinds of modern music. "I mean, there's everything from pop to folk to jazz, blues to punk rock to metal to emo [emotional punk rock], just everything," he says. "And that's what's cool."

Sixteen-year-old Vanessa Harris of Castro Valley in northern California hopes to have a career in the music business. "I play keyboards and I also sing," she says. "And my brother's in a band, so that inspired me to start my own band. And I have a band back home."

Vanessa's friend, 15-year-old Erica Tirado, also from Castro Valley, enjoys all kinds of music. "I'm here just because I love music. I'm a singer and I like to experience different styles of music, and this is something I haven't done before," she says. "So it's interesting."

Sixteen-year-old drummer Kate Herring of San Diego enjoys the give-and-take with her fellow musicians. "It's just being around a bunch of people that are all playing music, and you never really have that experience at home. It's only a few kids you'll be with, but being here, being with so many people."

Nick Barris of Minden, Nevada, is a 17-year-old guitarist who has returned to camp for his second year. "It's just a great program for anybody that has any interest in music whatsoever," he says. "If you don't have an opportunity to join a band back at home, you come here and you do it for a week, and it really teaches you a lot about other people and how to cope with other people."

These students say the summer music camp teaches one thing above others, that with practice and perseverance, they can get into the business, if they want to.

Sixteen-year-old Joel Grosskopf of Carson City, Nevada, says that's why he's here. "I want to take it professional for sure. I'm looking into that."

In the meantime, he'll have fun at camp, meet new friends and make some music.