Girls Who Rock

Thanks to rock and roll camps for girls springing up around the country, more and more young women are strapping on an electric guitar and belting out their own songs, gaining the skills and confidence they need to enter this musical scene. Last summer, the Institute for Musical Arts sponsored its first such camp for girls in Goshen, Massachusetts. Fifteen girls ages 11 to 20 spent five days studying vocals, drums, stage technique, chord charting and song development, concluding with a concert where most of the songs were originals, written or arranged during the program.

Since 1987, the Institute for Musical Arts ( has been “supporting women in music and its related businesses.” Ann Hackler, executive director of the IMA, says “Adolescence is such a fertile, creative, emotional time. All too often, those emotions get turned inward, sometimes in self-destructive ways. The camp helps girls channel that energy outward, to take the stage, and to say what they have to say.”

For Leah Kunkel, teaching sessions on vocal technique provided the opportunity to be a positive role model for girls. “When I grew up, I didn’t know any women who were serious musicians,” says Kunkel. “If you were a girl, you were going to be asked to pick up a tambourine, shake your butt, and look cute.” Kunkel credits her own development to her musical Jewish family. “Singing is a huge part of the Jewish cultural tradition, and my upbringing was enriched by that music. That’s a gift that I got from my Jewish heritage, and I wanted to share it with others.”