Published 06 April 2010 in The West Highland Free Press.
Young people, across the Highlands, have had the chance to find out what it takes to make a big noise in the music industry at the annual Rock School held in Dingwall Academy.
Now in its fifth year, the three day Rock School, which is delivered by Skills Development Scotland, is open to young people between the ages of 14 and 19 to help provide them with support and motivation.
The aim of Rock School is to use music to motivate youngsters and engage them in developing the transferable skills essential to fulfilling their potential, whatever they choose to do in life. Rock School has seen participants transformed into confident and motivated young people in a very short time.
John Sinclair, a former keyboard player for Ozzy Osbourne, provided the youngsters with an insight into his experience and knowledge. As well as sharing a stage with Ozzy, John has been on the road with bands such as Uriah Heep and The Cult during his 30 year career.
Other tutors included local songwriter Jim Hunter and guitarist Keith Robinson. Robbie Dunsmore and Gareth Ince also involved with teaching the youngsters more about music technology and what goes on behind the scenes.
As well as workshops and supported rehearsal sessions, which culminated in a live public performance, the youngsters were given valuable music industry advice and tips on how to promote themselves.
Sarah Jane Thomson from Skye attended Rock School two years ago and has put together a five track CD, developed a website and has performed a number of gigs. She is also studying for a BA in Business Management, having taken on board advice about the wisdom of having a ‘Plan B’.
She said: “I’ve learned from the tutors that trying to make your way in the business is not as easy at it may seem but it can be done with hard work and effort. There are many young musicians in the Highlands area who would love to do something similar to what I’ve done. With more Rock School courses in more areas, there will be an increased opportunity for young people to get involved in the music industry.”
Rock School is not just for people who want to be rock stars though. Whilst several young people who have attended over the years have gone on to study music or sound engineering, many more have gone on to other forms of training, employment or higher education.
Fiona MacInnes, spokesperson from Skills Development Scotland said: “Basic life skills such as communication, teamwork and decision making are all acquired as by-products of playing in a band. These skills are also vital for career planning and career resilience in a rapidly changing job market.”
“Talking about careers can turn some people off, but music breaks down barriers and helps people express themselves and their hopes for their future more confidently.”