By Lindsay Carey
A few Southington kids got together recently to jam out on their instruments at the fourth annual Rock Band Camp at The Music Shop on Queen Street, a music and instrument retail store that also provides lessons.
Five youths, four of which are current students at the Music Shop, learned some classic rock songs by the Beatles and the Ramones, along with more contemporary music like “Viva la Vida” by Cold Play.
The group, known as Musical Fury, was made up of students between the ages of 11 and 14. They practiced for four days with instructors at the Music Shop. Matthew Brennan and Erik Sawson were on keyboards and Ryan Shurkus, Matthew Luponio, Schulyer Burke-McLoughlin played guitar. Brennan, Luponio and Burke-McLoughlin were the singers for Musical Fury.
“It’s incredible what a bunch of kids can put together in 10 or 11 hours,” said Matthew.
The 11-year-old pianist has been a Music Shop student for five years and has participated in the camp every year since it began. Matthew said he keeps coming back, because he enjoys learning how to play pop and rock tunes since he usually plays classical music during his lessons.
“The reason we do this is because when I was a kid, everybody in my neighborhood played an instrument” said Scott Mulrooney, whose family has owned the business. “In the summers we would get together, we’d set up the guitar in someone’s garage and we’d have a band. It was a great way to meet people.”
Mulrooney said that he’s still friendly with many of the people he played in bands with 25-30 years ago.
“It’s not my high school buddies or my college roommates that I kept in touch with,” said Mulrooney. “It’s really the kids that I grew up playing music with. There’s such a bond there. It’s so nice when you can have a friend that you share a passion with that you can do your whole life.”
Mulrooney expressed that the magic of music is that it can be a lifelong passion. Unlike those who play sports, music lovers can continue to play as long as their fingers will let them, he said. Growing up surrounded by friends and family that played influenced the creation of the Rock Band Camp.
He also expressed the importance of connecting with others to enhance one’s musical ability. The Rock Band Camp brings students together and forces them to listen to each other and communicate.
“You realize you’re playing an instrument and they’re playing an instrument too,” said Mulrooney. “You have to sort of lock into what they’re doing all while keeping really good time.”
Mulrooney said that group worked well together, partially because of the tight knit community in Southington. All five of the students are from Southington and some were familiar with one another.
“Music is such a social thing,” said Mulrooney. “A lot of times people go home and they just practice in their room in isolation. That’s boring. You’re just in solitude practicing scales. It really needs to be, ‘Hey let’s get together and make a song.’”
Mulrooney and instructors Kelvin Collins and Tommy Nagle worked with the group from July 14-17.
At times they split the group up to work on the intricate parts of the songs, before reconvening as a group.
On July 18, the Rock Band practiced as if it was there actual performance for a couple hours, performing before their family and friends.
“We run through it start to finish no stopping just like a real performance, which is another good thing to learn,” said Mulrooney. “When you’re playing and the drummers keeping time, you’ve got know your parts and keep plowing through and that’s a great lesson too, thinking on your feet.”
According to Mulrooney, some of the parents were surprised to see their kids performing songs that they recognized and playing them well. In Mulrooney’s experience, it doesn’t really click for parents until they see their child performing. They may bring their child into lessons every week and hear them practice at home, but they’re most amazed when they see their child performing.
“It’s really cool to see the kids like at the end they’re always really excited”, said Music Shop Instructor Collins, who has helped with the Rock Band all four years. “It’s a lot of work obviously for them, but it seems to be rewarding for them and it’s pretty rewarding for us too –getting to see them succeed in front of their families.”
Mulrooney said they also recorded the performance for the students, which they can keep for memories and to learn from.
The Music Shop has been in business in Southington for 30 years.