Being in a band has been a very fun journey for me. I think things were a bit different for us because of our position, though:we are all women, and we are all under the age of 21. These factors have made certain aspects harder, and some easier.
Before I jump into what it’s been like for me to be in a youth band, here’s a little bit about me. I first got into playing guitar when i was 8 because of an organization called Rain City Rock Camp for girls, which did a summer camp where you are put in a band with a few other girls, you write a song over the course of a week, and then perform it at a venue downtown. It’s what got me started with seriously playing music. I have now been playing for half of my life, and a lot of that time was with 3 other people who had also done the same summer camp as me. I joined the band when I was 12, and we have been playing together for around 4 years now. Starting off in a band so young, and with all of us being women, gave us a different experience from a lot of musicians who started playing music at an older age.
. The first practice space we rented out was a bar, with surrounding rooms for bands to practice in, so we couldn’t wander around in there. We’ve also played at a bar before, where we all had to get stamps on our hands so they would know who we were. Once the show ended, we had to pack up and leave immediately. I sometimes felt as if other, older people saw us as merely just a bunch of little girls running around their space, with nothing much to offer them. But despite all of this, there were also opportunities catered to us because we were younger. For example, Sound Off is a great battle of the bands type of competition that you can only do if you are under 21. More Music @ the Moore is also limited to under-21s. We have also been used as an example by Rain City for another one of their summer camps for what you can do after your week of being in a band is over with, and how you can extend the experience of being at one of their camps.
Because we all started as tweens,it was before a period of growing into ourselves, and before we could even know who we are, or how to be good at what we do. We didn’t know each other previously, so the dynamics of our friendship showed through our music, and I’d say it was only last year where we began truly creating music as a band, and not 4 instruments that sound okay playing together. Not just that we were figuring out our instruments, but we were/are going through puberty at the same time. Having so much to figure out while at the same time putting what we can into being a band is difficult. It’s better now that we are older. Our ideas mesh together better, and we can listen to what everyone else has to say in a way we couldn’t previously.
Another aspect that makes things different for us is that we don’t have any guys in the band. That mixed with our age, I think it makes people not take us as seriously as we’d like to be taken. We’re in a position that makes it easier for older people to talk down to us. Like i mentioned previously, we were probably seen as a bunch of little girls trying to have fun and figure out our instruments, while simultaneously getting in the way. Hopefully as we play longer and grow older, we won’t be viewed like this anymore. People like us once they actually listen, I’ve come to find.
Despite downsides, we have gotten to do many amazing things because of who we are and where we come from. We have gotten to play at Folklife and Upstream, and we also have so many people out there willing to help us, because of our connections and our music. I’m very grateful for what we have gotten to do, and I’m excited to see how we grow. I hope the future for other female youth bands is full of support from those who are older, because it’s hard to get to do anything without those people. Hopefully, when i grow up a bit, i can be one of those support systems for local youth bands. I think there’s a lot of talent out there that is ignored just because of the age of the people, and if i get to see this change as i grow up, that would be great.