Photograph by Kathleen Olson
Kid Rock: Some of Robin Macomber's students fire up the Teen Center.
Teen Band Class
In 'Be in Your Own Band,' Santa Cruz teens get to try out the rock & roll lifestyle.
By Lacy Pitman
A tall teenage girl with dirty blonde hair and black Converse taps out the first four beats of "Hotel California" on her drum sticks. A boy with brown curls covering his eyes joins in, strumming a red electric guitar as another girl comes in on the keyboard next to him. The music blasts out of the amps and fills the air of the Santa Cruz Teen Center on Laurel Street with bravura sound. The only adult in the room belting out lyrics into a microphone and stopping to encourage guitar solos and creative drum fills is Robin Macomber, who started "Be In Your Own Band" in 2002. Macomber dreamed of being a rock star from the age of six and bought his first guitar at a garage sale. After playing with a band for three years, Macomber moved from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz and discovered that he loved teaching. "The energy, creativity and emotions (of the students) are so powerful and inspiring," Macomber said. "It keeps me appreciating life on a higher level."As an experienced local music educator who's given after-school and private lessons for more than 10 years, Macomber gives these would-be teenage rockers, who dream of musical glory but whose only gigs have been in their parents' garage, the opportunity to develop their talents and perform with a band of their peers.
Take Ben Stahl, for example. He's 15 years old, and his band, The Taken, was formed through Macomber's program. The Taken recently won a local talent contest, recorded a demo over the summer, and is playing at the 418 Project this Friday, Oct. 26. When asked why he likes the class, Stahl said, "Different people who play different instruments can play the songs they want to play with someone they didn't (previously) know. It's like Craig's List for bands."
The Teen Center's "Be in Your Own Band" class focuses on giving middle- and high-school-age teens the opportunity to play with other musicians in a band setting. Students with basic proficiency and ability gain knowledge of reading, songwriting, music theory and performance techniques over the course of once-weekly sessions for 10 weeks. Students select from a list of cover songs by bands ranging from Led Zeppelin to Jimmy Hendrix to Nirvana at the beginning of each course. Each student learns to play at least three songs, whether originally composed or chosen, that are performed live to the public to wrap up each 10-week session. To find out about the next concert contact the Santa Cruz Teen Center at 831.420.6325.
BE IN YOUR OWN BANDClasses take place in various locations in Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and Los Gatos and cost $10-$15 per class. Contact Robin Macomber at 831.345.5224 or at [email protected]
Send a letter to the editor about this story.