Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Witchwood School Of Rock Meets Kerchoonz

By Michele Wilson-Morris, MusicDish e-Journal

Have you ever heard the expression 'from the mouths of babes'? Well, in a small English village called Shipton-Under-Wychwood, there are 35 'babes' who are making music, sweet music. Ranging in ages 6-15, these youngsters composed, performed live, and recorded their very own songs which are now available for your listening pleasure at www.Kerchoonz.com/secretmusic.

How did such a thing come about? Well, the children are all students of the Witchwood School of Rock, which was founded in January 2009 by Sandy Chalmers, Aldie Chalmers, and Lee Wyatt-Buchan. According to Wyatt-Buchan, "the school was created as an opportunity for the children and teenagers of the local community to give them an opportunity to learn and play instruments, learn and understand musical composition, play music with other kids in band situations, record material, and play live on stage."

Pulling this off took a bit of finessing, but the Chalmers and Wyatt-Buchan took advantage of the last school break by holding a weeklong workshop that focused on song writing, song structure and recording. Of the 50 students (ages 6 – 18) who currently attend the Witchwood School of Rock, 35 participated in the workshop which focused on song writing, song structure and recording. They formed groups (with the exception of one budding artist -- 15 year old Tom Taylor who challenged himself even more by going solo), and wrote and recorded the music. This is pretty impressive since none of them had ever even been in a recording studio before. (And how many adult artists can actually compose, learn, and record a song in just 5 days from start to finish, hmm..?) The experience level of the students vary from being self taught to having private lessons, but most learned the basics through the Witchwood School of Rock by attending sessions on a weekly basis.

On April 17th, most of the Witchwood kids will be performing their music live in a showcase/fundraising gig in Shipton. The group (or soloist) that has received the most plays and downloads on the Kerchoonz.com website will take home a portable digital recording studio. The kids are excited, as are friends and family, who are diligently downloading. Think of it as a smaller version of American Idol if you will, but you don't have to call or text... just listen and download your favorite(s). The event will also serve the purpose of helping to purchase equipment (such as a PA system), and additional instruments, because not all of the children have their own. But while they might not own an instrument, they definitely play them – electric guitars, bass guitar, acoustic guitars, keyboards, and drums. There are also some very talented lyricists and vocalists as well.

Wyatt-Buchan's main concern is developing and maintaining their passion for music. "We as teachers are just passing on our years of experience from writing, playing live, and recording to the kids in the hope that they will enjoy it and that it will stay with them through life."

The Witchwood School of Rock is planning to once again showcase their talent in May, followed by an event to be held in the latter part of 2009 in which established bands will be invited to play. And in the meantime, any donations to the school will be accepted and appreciated.

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