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IUPUI hosts future superstars from Girls Rock Indianapolis

Jul 19, 2018
Sarah Masterson poses with a soundboard in the ICTC.
IUPUI senior Sarah Masterson is at her trusty 12-channel mixer in the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex.Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

The show goes on, thanks to the talents of Sarah Masterson. The IUPUI senior has set up stages for rock legends like Def Leppard, Styx and Foreigner and country superstars like Miranda Lambert at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center. She’s mixed monitors and front-of-house sound for Indianapolis clubs like Pioneer and The Vogue as well.

One of the music and arts technology major’s favorite gigs, however, is running sound for the Girls Rock Indianapolis summer camp, held annually in the IUPUI Informatics and Communications Technology Complex. The 2018 edition included 93 girls, ranging in age from 9 to 16. The first session ran July 9 to 14. The current session started July 16 and goes through Saturday, July 21.

“It’s really fulfilling,” said Masterson, who is also the live sound engineer for the Electro-Acoustic Ensemble at IUPUI. “Every time I get here and I’m around the kids, their excitement is really contagious. You always leave feeling like you’ve made the world a better place.”

Description of the following video:

[Video: Two girls are playing drums at the Girls Rock Indianapolis music camp at IUPUI.]

[Words appear: IUPUI presents]

[Words appear: The Girls Rock Indianapolis summer camp was held at IUPUI in July.]

[Video: A girl is playing a keyboard.]

[Video: A girl is dancing in her seat while sitting behind a drum set.]

[Words appear: Campers included 93 girls, ranging in age from 9 to 16.]

[Video: Close-up of a girl’s hands playing the keyboard.]

[Video: A girl is reading a song she has written. She is reading from a colorful little notebook and speaking into a microphone.]

[Video: A girl is playing a guitar.]

[Words appear: They learn how to play instruments and write music.]

[Video: A girl is playing the drums.]

[Video: Addison, a Girls Rock Indianapolis camp attendee, speaks on-camera.]

Addison speaks: I wanted to come to the Girls Rock camp today because I’m not really the person who would come out and start rocking just in front of everybody. I’m kind of a shy person, so I wanted to try something new and, like, take out my inner soul.

[Video: A girl is playing the drums.]

[Words appear: They also gain experience with camaraderie and self-confidence.]

[Video: A girl reads a song that she has written. She is reading off of a piece of paper and speaking into a microphone.]

[Video: A girl plays the keyboard.]

[Video: Addison appears on camera.]

Addison speaks: I like music because you can always get something out of it. Like, if you wanted slow music, you can find slow music. If you wanted, like, upbeat music, you can find upbeat music.

[Video: A camp counselor listens to a camper speak. The camper is holding a microphone.]

[Words appear: After a full week of day camp instruction, campers will perform…]

[Video: A girl plays the keyboard.]

[Video: A girl plays the guitar.]

[Video: A girl plays the drums.]

[Words appear: …original songs at an end-of-camp showcase.]

[Video: A girl plays the guitar.]

[Video: A close-up of a backpack given to camp attendees that says “Girls Rock! Indy.”]

[Words appear: IUPUI]

[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]

[Words appear:]



While the girls are learning how to play instruments, write lyrics and arrange songs, Masterson helps make everything sound spectacular while working 12-channel soundboards and making sure microphones, amplifiers and speakers are properly placed in the complex’s auditoriums and rooms, which served as rehearsal spaces for the campers.

The Girls Rock session showcase, which is open to the public, is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at the 416 Wabash event center

Masterson has seen interest from the young campers and future rockers in how to make a live concert sound its best.

“They’re all really curious about everything, so it’s a good opportunity to show them,” Masterson said. “The older kids are more interested in the sound engineering aspect of things. They’re really eager to learn everything about it. It’s exciting to see kids get excited about that stuff.”

Sound advice

Set to graduate in 2019, Masterson helped trailblaze an emphasis on live sound engineering within the Department of Music and Arts Technology. As she can tell you from learning numerous recording studio techniques, there is a lot more to live sound than simply plugging in mics and turning up the volume knob.

Jordan Munson, senior lecturer of music and arts technology and coordinator of undergraduate recruitment for the program, said Masterson’s expertise and passion have helped realize new career opportunities within the department. Live events – concerts or even just public speaking events – require experienced sound engineers like Masterson.

“We’ve really collaborated a lot,” added Masterson, “and kind of made it up as we went along in how best to incorporate getting live engineering experience on top of all of the studio things we do as well.”

Female students still only make up about 10 percent of the Department of Music and Arts Technology’s undergraduates, but that number has doubled since Masterson’s first year. Girls Rock and the scholarship the department is offering are contributing to increasing the number of female and female-identified students even more.

“Long-term recruitment is a goal,” Munson said. “Especially since most of these campers are pretty young, the experience of them being on campus here, seeing and interacting with our students and getting a sense of what they do, will be helpful.”

Debra Burns, chairwoman of the Department of Music and Arts Technology and professor of music therapy, concurred: “It provides the girls an opportunity to establish a relationship with the department and campus, thus, it is really a great engagement activity that may also lead to more students interested in our music or engineering programs.”

A Girls Rock Indianapolis camper gets help on bass guitar.
A Girls Rock Indianapolis camper gets ready on drums.
A Girls Rock Indianapolis camper works on her vocals.
A Girls Rock Indianapolis drum kit
A Girls Rock Indianapolis camper in an orange-and-yellow tank top rocks the drums.
Girls Rock Indianapolis campers rock the bass.

Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

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