These kids spend countless hours honing their skills, perfecting that latest rift or bassline alone in their bedrooms, and, as a group, making sure their sound is tight, in tune, and ready for that big gig.
Talking to these youth brought me back to when I was in high school. I, too, played in several high school rock bands, and like these teens it was my passion. When my band at the time, we were called Boxer Rebellion, won the regional battle of the bands in 2006, it was the happiest moment of my life up to that point, we were ecstatic.
I liked everything about playing in bands. I liked the creativity, the teamwork, the individual skills needed to succeed, and the feeling when you get up on the stage and rock out.
However, in talking to one band member in particular something was said that really struck me. She compared the availability of resources and venues for people interested in sports to those interested in music and the arts. Her sentiments were echoed by all the band members interviewed from two different groups. They all said for bands that want to play live, the only thing available really is the Battle of the Bands, which happens once a year.
This got me thinking, it's a very valid comparison. Like sports teams, bands must have discipline, skill, unity — all the things that make up a successful group. The difference is, if you're interested in playing volleyball or hockey there are many teams through the school system and other adult-run community organizations for kids to compete.
Moreover, kids that are good at sports are encouraged to go on to higher levels and sometimes get scholarships, or even become professionals.
"Why is it that sports are encouraged from the very earliest age, with kids having all kinds of avenues to explore these talents?" -
But those in bands are pretty much banished to the basement until they're old enough to move to St. John's and play at bars.
Over the years, I have also noticed something else about Gander, the number of bands has declined. But when I think back to when I was in high school, the main reason my band got together was to practice for an event. It kind of takes the fun out of practicing when there's no where to show off your efforts, which must be disheartening for many younger people in bands or wanting to be in bands.
When I think back to when I was in school, there were always a number of events every year for kids who wanted to take to the stage. We had lunchtime concerts several times a year, school variety shows, and, before I was old enough to be in a band myself, I remember a group of bands that would get together to organize concerts in the Town Square and old town site.
However, thinking back, all those efforts were organized by the young people in the bands, and it was always a struggle to get places to play.
As an adult living in Gander, even the type of music displayed at local clubs is discouraging.
First of all, only one or two clubs even hire live bands, and bar goers seem to have a repertoire of about 20 songs that the one or two bands must play to please the masses. Bands who don't play those songs get replaced by DJs and karaoke machines, because why pay a band the crowds don't want to hear?