Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ladies Rock Milwaukee

This is a thing that I did in my real life:

I signed up for (the first ever!) Ladies Rock Milwaukee Camp back in October and I secretly stressed out about it almost every day leading up to the kickoff party. I kept telling people about the program not only because I thought it was such an awesome idea, but also because telling people would hold me accountable and keep me from getting too scared and bailing out.

I’m so glad I didn’t bail out.

I’m not trying to be grandiose but quite honestly this was one of the most terrifying and badass things I’ve ever done. (And I think I do a lot of ridiculous things?) Basically I’m I giant introvert who likes to combat my shyness but putting myself into increasingly challenging situations. It’s how I keep myself from curling up into a gigantic hermit crab shell and withdrawing from social interactions forever.

Maybe it sounds a bit strange that having grown up performing dance and musical theatre I would be this frightened by singing in public again. It’s not like I haven’t been in situations like this before. Having attended a performing arts middle and high school I had many parts in musicals and performed solos on stage when I was a kid. When I pursued my degree in dance I performed in front of audiences many many times and it was something that I absolutely adored.

This was sooooo different.

#1 Holy hell that was a long time ago

#2 We formed our band on Thursday evening and performed our original song on stage just two-and-a-half days later. Some of us had never played an instrument before. I have done absolutely NOTHING that comes close to this sort of thing, ever.

#3 For me, performing dance on stage is a different animal entirely. You get to become a character that is separate from yourself. But using your voice to sing... it feels like there is nowhere to hide.

#4 Did I mention how long it’s been since I’ve been on any stage?

Even more so than the performance aspect, I was kind of terrified of the “process.” How the eff do you write a song? Hell if I know. I used to noodle around on my guitar and write some (admittedly terrible) songs back in high school. I’ve always loved to sing but I’ve never had any idea how to make my own music and lyrics mesh. I really had no clue how I was going to walk into a room with three other women and come out with an actual piece of music that we all liked and agreed upon. Which makes what happened by the end of the weekend even more amazing:

On Sunday night we performed a real life, upbeat, belt-it-out pop song. 


I’m not even sure how our song happened. One minute I was sitting on the floor with Sara, Patty and Anneke, furiously scribbling down words and phrases in our brainstorm session. Then the next thing I know we’re in the practice room listening to the chords Sara learned (that morning!) and I’m trying to improvise a melody on top of it. Add in a funky bass line and some kicking drums and… hey we wrote a song! Our band coach Mary Joy jumped in with some super helpful feedback along the way and guided us whenever we got a little stuck on something. (The Ladies Rock volunteers were seriously full of amazing.)

So our group of sixteen women formed four different bands, and each band wrote a completely different kind of song. It was so cool to hear what everyone came up with! Even more awesome was watching the same women who nervously introduced themselves alongside me on Thursday night take the stage on Sunday with such confidence. Everyone took what we learned in our safe, secure little bubble of encouragement and rocked the part when the time came to play. I seriously did not think I would ever do something like this at 36 years old. I mean, my kid plays in a band now. It's kind of her deal now, not mine. I'm just super happy that for one weekend I got to fulfill this silly little dream of mine. GET OUT THERE AND DO THINGS.

I also want to write another song.

*More photos from the event here. I'll update with the video once it's available in a couple of weeks. 


  1. Tracey, this is fantastic (I'm Will R. from Facebook) (Vermont Ferret from Flickr). I love this idea.

  2. Thanks Will! The program is in a lot of cities now and it's actually a fundraiser for the Girls Rock program that my daughter Ava has participated in the past two years. :)

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