Rock On! Revisited – What Really Happens at Band Camp

By: Samuel O’Brient

At some point in their lives, regardless of whom they are or where they come from, everyone dreams of being a rock star. The thrill of the stage, the roar of the crowd, the excitement of it all…now imagine living that dream at only twelve years old…welcome to Rock On!

When you hear the term “band camp,” you might not imagine places like Rock On! right away. Films such as American Pie Presents Band Camp and Camp Rock have created somewhat skewed image of what a band camp is, but there truly is no place like Rock On! A young musician’s workshop anchored in Pittsfield Massachusetts and annually held at Berkshire Community College, Rock On! caters to musicians of all ages with all different types of skill and technique. They learn many different things, including what it really means to play in a band and what it feels like to perform for a crowd. The Rock On! experience isn’t just fun, though, it’s also very educational, due to the superbly talented faculty, who are great musicians, teachers and in general just great people. They are aided by a group of college and older high school students known as the interns, all very talented musicians and former campers themselves, who assist the faculty in every way possible.

As a former long-time veteran of Rock On! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work as an intern this year. Having been gone for several years, though, upon my return on the first Monday of week one, I found myself frequently musing over a question; “Am I getting older or are these campers getting younger?” In short, the answer was both. Rock On! used to only allow students ages 12 and up, but in recent years, they have opened their doors to students of all ages. I was truly amazed by the talent I witnessed in students less than half my age this past week. Perhaps the biggest difference since my days at Rock On!, though, was the addition of an entirely new group of people. Amidst the band t-shirts and black skinny jeans that made up the typical attire of most of the Rock On! student body, I couldn’t help but notice a group of students who just didn’t look like the others; they were the string players. Just this year, Rock On! has also opened its doors to musicians who play instruments such as the violin and the cello. While the concept of mixing classical and Rock instruments is certainly new to Rock On! it worked out very well. The string ensemble, along with several campers who specialized in the more rock and roll type instruments performed show-stopping renditions of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir featured below, and The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby. You can find a link to the performance of Eleanor Rigby here on RO’s Facebook Page. Both songs were performed beautifully and received numerous rounds of applause from the awe-struck crowd.

All the bands performed well, though, shaking things up on stage in different ways, all adding their own different styles and talents to the show. This camp may be adding different programs, instruments, and people from year to year, but one thing never changes and it really is the most important thing of all; the Rock On! experience.


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