So I'm reading David Byrne's book, How Music Works, and last night I get to a chapter called "Amateurs!" — and I had to put down the book so I could take a minute and write to all of you. If you want to know why I started Beacon Music Factory in this amazing little Hudson Valley town, the desire to celebrate amateurs has a lot to do with it. I think everyone deserves to make some music, because making music will lift you up to the rafters. If music moves you, making music will move you even more. Byrne writes, "The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different, and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things." In modern society, we have tended "toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many ways this tendency is counterproductive." What he's referring to is the idea that for a bazillion years people made music. Then in the 20th century we created a recording industry, out of which has come a recorded-music world in which most people participate by merely consuming music. Feh. "Maybe, like sports," says Byrne,"making music can function as a game—a musical "team" can do what an individual cannot." Exactly. Long before there was ever a recording industry, music-making was a way of socializing, or being on a team. In the back forty, on the front porch, in the parlor, on a street corner, in church, in a pub. A hundred years ago, if you wanted to hear some music you got together with your peeps and you made some music. When I rave to anyone — parent, student, teacher, whomever—about why I think our Rock Band Boot Camp program is so incredible, so inspiring, so important, it's because no matter what you, the student, bring to it, you can—and we will—put it to use. And in the process, while you're in rock camp, as a contributing member of this team, of this group, of this band that you're in, you share a common goal with your crew. You're in it together. Suddenly the music you're making is more fun, more engaging, and more interesting to you than anything on Spotify or whatever on Brooklyn Vegan. The songs you're working on might be cheesy as hell, but all of a sudden you find yourself inside the music looking out—maybe for the first time. And because you're a vital part of the band, some part of that arrangement depends on you. What a rush. Byrne quotes anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake: "Prehistorically, …all art forms were communally made, which had the effect of reinforcing a group's cohesion, and thereby improving their chances of survival." Communal cohesion, tell me about it. If you were at any of the Adult Boot Camp final shows over the past year (London Calling, Arena Rock, Ziggy Stardust, Marquee Moon, Odd Man Out), the community support and enthusiasm rocked as hard as the bands. In our Rock Band Boot Camps, we are so dedicated to providing an opportunity for any and all kinds of people to rock out (our way of saying make music while having the time of your life). Of course, BMF diligently serves its serious students with instruction in a wide range of instruments, yes. But there is this other part of our mission: and that is to let the person with desire (and perhaps no experience) get his or her ya-yas out. As long as you've got desire, you really ought to give yourself the chance to rock out. And what better way to rock out than to make real music with real people like yourself. I really believe in what we're doing with these rock band camps, and I'm grateful to our teaching staff and to all of you, our students and supporters, for making this thing so real.
333 Fishkill Avenue
Beacon, NY 12508