Girls Rock! Indianapolis teaches self-empowerment through music

Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a volunteer-led non-profit that teaches music to children through the lens of gender equity and social justice.

“We use the music as a tool for empowerment,” said GiGi Miedema, a former camper who now serves as a camp director and board member.

“One of the unifying missions of all Girls Rock camps around the world is this idea of collective liberation.”

Summer camp is the organization’s largest annual program, held in two week-long sessions. The rock band “crash course” is open to girls, non-binary and transgender children, ages 9 to 16.

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This year’s program was scaled back in size and held outdoors at Camp Sertoma, precautions of the coronavirus pandemic. About 35 campers split into seven bands each week. Bands are comprised of a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, keyboard player and drummer. 

No musical experience is required and instruments are provided. By the end of the week, campers will be able to perform an original song written with their bandmates. 

“A lot of campers learn how to advocate for themselves and be confident. I think even just holding a large instrument does a lot for one’s confidence,” Miedema said. 

“But we also talk a lot especially about consent and how to problem solve and resolve conflict, because conflict happens.”

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