Rocking out on stage in front of countless adoring fans; it’s something many musicians dream of from the very first moment they pick up an instrument. Well, there is a group of music teachers who have come together to offer courses that will allow young people to play in a band and, perhaps one day, pursue that superstar dream.
The N.D.G. Music School was created by Sheila Veerkamp, Michael Fitch and Jonathan Stein, three musicians who play multiple instruments and produce music. There are five courses, called Jam Sessions, offered to musicians of all skill levels who play a variety of instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.
The idea is an offshoot of a program Stein runs called It Came from the Garage, where would-be rockers form a band and put on live performances.
Veerkamp, who is classically trained in piano and vocals, has been teaching music for more than 20 years. She says that playing with other musicians fosters an important sense of community and camaraderie. “Music students are sometimes isolated in their own work,” Veerkamp says. “Bringing them together in these sessions will open their eyes to what it’s like to play as a unit.”
Five Jam Sessions are available: Introductory, Collaborative Creation, Group Recording, Live Performance, and Covers.
Veerkamp recommends people do the Introductory course first, since it is geared to students who have never played in a band but have a basic grasp of their instrument. In this course, students will learn more about their instrument, how to set up and use microphones and amplifiers as well as how to play songs and write lyrics. The course culminates in a live recording. Students can take home a digital copy of their last in-studio session.
The Collaborative Creation course will focus on the elements of lyrical writing and structuring melodies, while the Group Recording course teaches students about the recording process and explains the role of a sound engineer. In the Live Performance course, students will prepare and play a set list in front of a live audience. More experienced musicians can sign up for Covers and dive right into preparing a set list of popular songs and playing together as a band.
All applicants are assessed to determine which Jam Session best suits their skill set. Students must bring their own instruments but the studio will provide amps, gear, microphones and other equipment.
The courses are held at a private studio in N.D.G. during the evenings and on weekends. The next sessions begin in April and costs $480 per person. Students sign up for weekly time slots.
For more information, visit ndgmusicschool.com.