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Girls Rock Indianapolis returns to empower and inspire 100 future rock stars

Jul 24, 2019

Description of the following video:

[Video: Girls Rock camp counselor Dana Dobbins leads a group of girls in learning to how form a band and play various instruments. The camp is located on IUPUI’s campus. Dobbins is seen straddling a backward chair, listening to the girls play music. Later she is seen standing in front of the group, directing them in their performances.]

[Words appear in bottom-left corner: IUPUI presents]

Dobbins speaks in voiceover: When I first did Girls Rock, I knew nothing about the process of songwriting …

[Video: Dobbins appears on camera, with a drum set in the background.]

[Words appear: Dana Dobbins; Girls Rock camp counselor]

Dobbins speaks: how to formulate a song, how to work with other bandmates.

[Video: Dobbins helps a camper learn how to play the guitar. Later, she is seen again sitting on the backward chair, leading the band’s performance in rehearsal.]

Dobbins speaks in voiceover: All the counselors that I had taught me how to then write songs …

[Video: Dobbins appears on camera.]

Dobbins speaks: … and from there, I kind of just took that and just rolled with it.

[Video: Girls Rock camp counselor Gigi Miedema helps a camper adjust the guitar she is playing. Later she is seen helping another camper play the keyboard.]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: The summer between sixth and seventh grade was my first time coming to Girls Rock. The band that I started at Girls Rock, called No Direction …

[Video: Miedema appears on camera.]

[Words appear: Gigi Miedema; Girls Rock camp counselor]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: … stayed together, played in Indianapolis for a few years afterwards …

[Video: Miedema is seen clapping her hands, helping campers keep proper rhythm while they are playing their instruments. Later she is seen helping campers play the guitar.]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: … but we all have continued in music in some way whether it’s through Girls Rock or kind of just as a hobby on our own.

[Video: Dobbins appears on camera.]

Dobbins speaks: As the years have progressed, I’ve gone from being a student to teaching students.

[Video: Dobbins is seen leading her group of campers. She is talking specifically to a girl who is playing the keyboard. Later, a close-up of a camper playing the drums is shown, followed by a girl learning to play the guitar. Dobbins can then be seen talking to her entire group of campers.]

Dobbins speaks in voiceover: But still for some reason, like, I have the idea – the mentality – that I am like, here to learn. By teaching, they also teach me things.

[Video: A camper playing the guitar is shown.]

Dobbins speaks in voiceover: These kids are sitting there, and they’re learning guitar …

[Video: Dobbins appears on camera.]

Dobbins speaks: … and their faces light up, and they get so excited about playing.

[Video: A camper is seen dancing while another girl plays the guitar. Later a camper who plays the drums is shown, followed by a camper who plays the keyboard. Dobbins is seen leading her group again.]

Dobbins speaks in voiceover: And I definitely see, like, these skills that they’re taking at camp, I can see them, like, I can see the gears turning in their minds, and they’re like, “I could start a band.”

[Video: Miedema leads her group of campers. She is standing in front of them while they are preparing to play.]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: For me, I come back because Girls Rock was the very first …

[Video: Miedema appears on camera.]

Miedema speaks: … place that I ever knew where people were like me.

[Video: Miedema helps two girls play the keyboard. Later a camper playing the guitar is shown, as well as another camper playing a keyboard and a girl who is learning to sing.]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: When I came to Girls Rock, it was like, suddenly there were 50 other people who were like me, and it really clicked.

[Video: Miedema appears on camera.]

Miedema speaks: It’s almost not a choice to come back. I have to come back because it’s my family. You know, and this was the first place that, outside of my actual …

[Video: Miedema is shown leading her group of campers. She talks with them, leading them in discussion. She also takes notes and later shows them how to adjust their instruments.]

Miedema speaks in voiceover: … family, I found that. You know? So, I have to come back to it, and the music is just an added bonus.

[Screen goes to black]

[IU trident appears]

[Words appear: IUPUI]

[Words appear: Fulfilling the promise]

[Words appear:]


Girls Rock Indianapolis

Angel Higginbottom was a toddler when she began singing in her parents’ church choir in Cincinnati. She then picked up flute, guitar and drums before high school.

During her first summer in Indianapolis, Higginbottom, now an IUPUI sophomore studying music and arts technology, utilized her music talents volunteering at Girls Rock Indianapolis. The summer camp, which ran July 8-19, has been hosted by the Department of Music and Arts Technology in the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex for the past few years. Excited elementary, middle and high school girls – 100 of them – took over music performance rooms to learn instruments, songwriting and performing in front of an audience. Higginbottom also shared with the campers some technological techniques picked up during her first year at IUPUI. She was surprised that the girls wanted to know about microphone placement in front of a guitar amplifier or how an audio mixing board works.

A camper learns how to use a mixing board.
A camper plays the drums.
Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

“I wish I knew about something like this when I was younger,” Higginbottom said. “This is a good environment for kids. The volunteers go the extra mile to make sure everyone feels welcome – and not just music-wise.”

Higginbottom’s experience performing, recording and studying music production served as an inspiration to the girls. The campers learn songs and new instruments during camp, but the biggest value is the connection they make to music and to each other.

Girls Rock Indianapolis enjoys a strong volunteer and instructor network, many of whom started as campers. Since the Indianapolis program was established in 2010, it’s certain former campers are performing around Indianapolis and beyond.

From No Direction to touring

Dana Dobbins, a senior studying anthropology, has volunteered at Girls Rock for the past several summers. She fondly recalls that she had never touched an instrument before her first summer as a Girls Rock camper. On July 30, she leaves for a tour with her punk rock trio, Lucy Furr.

Girls Rock camp counselor Dana Dobbins
Girls Rock counselor Dana Dobbins learned about music and the process of songwriting while attending the camp as a child.Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

“For me when I was younger, Girls Rock gave me that basis that ‘I can start a band,’” Dobbins said. “I can sit and play music with people and write songs.”

Dobbins and her first bandmates in No Direction kept writing and playing after they aged out of Girls Rock. Dobbins went on to play in a handful of projects that gig around Indianapolis – Dana Skully and the Tiger Sharks, Fingertoes, and the aforementioned Lucy Furr. Dobbins rocks bass, guitar, vocals and/or a drum machine in these projects.

Still only 20 years old, Dobbins calls Girls Rock her summer home. It’s innate to come back to help with the next crop of campers and future rockers.

“I still have the mindset that I’m here to learn,” Dobbins explained. “When I’m teaching, the students are teaching me things, too.”

Cello in the bass room?

Gigi Miedema, a junior in the School of Music at DePauw University, learned violin and cello before embracing the bass guitar thanks to her time in Girls Rock.

Girls Rock counselor Gigi Miedema first attended the camp in 2011 as a student.Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

“I can play rock on a cello,” said Miedema, who taught bass during Girls Rock. “The things that I learned at Girls Rock about myself and interacting with other musicians really pushed me into that. It helped me be more open.”

When she was a camper, Miedema attended a small school. None of her friends shared her musical tastes. She couldn’t connect with anyone over her passion for music.

“I had pictures of the Beatles in my locker, and no one knew who they were,” Miedema said with a laugh. “Come on, it’s the Beatles.”

Gigi Miedema teaches girls how to play guitar.
Campers at Girls Rock have the opportunity to learn to play a variety of instruments, including guitar and keyboard.Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

The string player didn’t tear up her sheet music, though. She’s been able to love classical music and rock-and-roll, performing both at chamber concerts around DePauw and Indianapolis. There is room for Wilco, Elvis Costello and the Ramones with Béla Bartók, Edward Elgar and Johann Sebastian Bach. Cello rhythms and parts can be translated to an AC/DC song, and vice versa.

At Girls Rock, she found 50 other girls just like her, and it’s as easy as the “Smoke on the Water” riff to get Miedema back as a camp counselor.

“I come back because it was the very first place that I ever knew where people were like me,” she said. “It really clicked. Coming back as a volunteer, I really see that Girls Rock is a family, and we take care of one another.

“It’s almost not a choice to come back. I have to come back because it’s my family.”

Media Contact

IU Newsroom

Tim Brouk

Internal Communications Specialist, IUPUI

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