Pushing boundaries: Girls Rock inspires change

By in Opinions
Girls Rock Camp: All Grown Up will take place in March, welcoming female, trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming adults aged 19 and older.

Girls Rock Camp: All Grown Up has evolved from an ever-growing global community of Girls Rock organizations collaborating worldwide to redefine what it means to be a female musician. Here’s why it’s so fulfilling to join the movement.

On a mission to foster creativity in women around the world, community organizations like Girls Rock Saskatoon are using music to give individuals the opportunity to produce, compose and experience music in a way that they might never have thought possible.

Now, for the third year in Saskatoon, Girls Rock has opened registrations for All Grown Up — a music camp for any female, trans, two-spirit or gender non-conforming adult aged 19 and older. Funds raised will support young musicians aged eight to 14 at Girls Rock Camp Saskatoon.

At the end of a week-long immersive-learning stint, participants in All Grown Up get to showcase their performances at Amigos Cantina before a supportive crowd — a chance for them to show off their newly developed talents and sing out original lyrics that express a variety of perspectives.

As part of a truly global movement and one of many branches around the world, Girls Rock Saskatoon seeks volunteers from your very own music community. Not only do you get a lesson from touring musicians who live here, but you also get to form bonds with them and other like-minded individuals.

These volunteers become role models for camp-goers, setting positive examples through performance, as well as by promoting an understanding of the core concepts of inclusivity.

I had first-hand experience volunteering with Girls Rock Saskatoon during their kids camp this past summer, and I was amazed to see our little community help to create such an encouraging environment for young musical minds. As someone who’s struggled to connect musically and socially with others, I felt encouraged to be there, because I felt the spirit of the music acting as a unifier.

Girls Rock camp instructors are exclusively female-identified, which in turn instills perseverance in many camp-goers. Beyond this huge support from women, male-identified volunteers play an integral part in the set-up for the camp as well.

What truly wins the hearts of Girls Rock supporters is the community that the organization has built around the world. It attracts people who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to connect with such a diverse musical scene, which fosters confidence through its ideologies. Girls Rock represents a missing link to nurture and strengthen women in the music industry that their bodies are bound to.

It is no secret that women are often under-represented in the music industry. A new study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — which analyzed 600 songs that appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 end-of-year charts from 2012 to 2017 — found that, in 2017, 83.2 per cent of artists were men and only 16.8 per cent were women.

This study also noted that the number of female-identified artists has declined significantly from 2016, at 28.1 per cent, and even 2012, at 22.7 per cent. With this decline of female artists on the charts, it is clear that women still need to work harder to maintain a position in the music industry.

This industry tends to promote the aesthetic appeal of female artists — downplaying musical production, composition, innovation and variety in the field. Because of this, many talented musicians who are not stereotypically feminine, or who produce unconventional music, are being overlooked because they do not fit the mould.

In order to diversify the musical scene and expand on the unique ideas and experiences that the top hits continue to lack, we must take the initiative ourselves by creating spaces where women can concentrate on skill rather than being forced to change themselves and what they choose to represent.

We often grumble about how little variety there is in popular music, so by removing archaic notions that obsess over body image and the commodification of femininity, we can give more focus to artists’ instrumental and poetic expressions.

This is why supporting events like the All Grown Up camp will change the stigmas regarding how women are represented and treated in the industry. With its resources and supportive environment, Girls Rock Saskatoon reaches out to anyone willing to join the movement. Now, it’s time for the rest to us to take the lead.

Lyin Mya

Photos: Girls Rock Saskatoon / Supplied