Letter to Camille: Girl Band

Hello sweet girl! It’s that season again … the end-of-school-year performance season. As your academic demands begin to wind down, your extracurriculars are revving up in a sprint to the finish line. In the span of a single upcoming weekend, you have 5 different performances for 4 different disciplines – band, orchestra, aerial silks, and your writing club.

A majority of your extracurricular energy is devoted to music in one form or another. Viola is your main instrument, but you can also play saxophone, clarinet, keyboard, and bass guitar. Not bad for an 11 year old, if I don’t say so myself.

The bass guitar is a fairly recent addition to your repertoire, but you and your Daddy can often be found face-to-face in the living room, Dad cradling the guitar and you the bass, working through a song. Lately you’ve been learning bass riffs to songs by Nirvana and The Pixies, which – of course – means we are excellent parents.

We purposefully exposed you to music from day 1. You’d been on a concert tour bus before first grade. You went to your first rock show in a club before you hit double digits. On a recent trip to Athens, we split our day between a favorite record store and luthier’s shop, admiring vinyl albums and vintage guitars.

So maybe it’s  not a surprise you’re into music, since we are. Or, maybe we’re just lucky you have taken to music like you have, so that all three of us can enjoy it together. Whatever the case, I’m grateful.

Several of your friends are into music too. Not too long ago you invited Michaela over, and this is how you spent the day.

You have another buddy, Ellanor, who plays drums. I’d had a conversation with her mom recently about exposing Ellanor to more girl drummers, and that chat planted a seed in my mind. Ella on drums, you on bass, some of your other buddies on vocals and guitar – I was fairly certain these were the necessary ingredients for a girl band. And I was certain a girl band was necessary.

You liked the idea, so I started a text thread with the other moms and we set a date for you girls to get together. We planned who would bring the pizza and drinks, and I picked up two bags of Caesar salad mix, because you know, greens are important.

And I thought to myself, “This is sooooo NOT rock ‘n’ roll.”

I can’t imagine the members of Nirvana or The Pixies being brought together by their mothers, or taking a break during their first band jam session to eat some Caesar salad because they needed roughage.

Either we’re hopeless helicopter parents for planning this girl band jam, or the coolest moms ever. Or both?

In our defense, once we had you girls together in a room with your instruments, we left you alone. We landed our helicopters. We didn’t tell you what to play or when to play. We didn’t give you tips and pointers. We sat in the living room and drank beer and ate salad and pretended we weren’t straining our ears to hear the timid notes being plucked from the next room.

Some of you girls had a blast. Some of you didn’t. Three of you hung in there to the end of the evening and decided you wanted to play again.

I did sneak in at the end and snap a couple of pictures, amid strong objections. But I COULDN’T HELP MYSELF.

As for what’s next, I’m determined not to orchestrate this any farther – the next move is up to you and the girls. If you want to get together we’ll make it happen, but the ball is in your court.

So far, you, Ellanor and Michaela seem to enjoy talking about the girl band more than actually getting together to play. You came up with a name – Collision – only to discover the name had already been used by a heavy metal band in the 70s.

So you decided you’d still be Collision, but you’d purposefully misspell it. To which I shuddered – albeit silently, holding my tongue. I loathe misspellings. “But it’s her band,” I reminded myself. “Not mine!”

Last weekend, your Daddy took you and Ellanor to an outdoor festival where he knew several rock bands were playing – including bands with girls. He says you two listened patiently, but really enjoyed studying some nearby graffiti and taking selfies for your upcoming album cover.


Ah well – whatever comes of it, or doesn’t come of it, is all good. I’m just glad music is a part of your life, even if it’s never more than a childhood hobby. Learning an instrument helps create a foundation of discipline and hard work. You know from experience that you can’t pick up an instrument and immediately make beautiful sounds – you have to struggle and get frustrated, yet persevere if you want to make music. That’s a lesson that applies to many aspects of life, and will serve you well no matter what you do.

Meanwhile, all your hard work is already leading to success – an advanced level in your orchestra, and District Honor Band for saxophone. Earlier this school year, you composed a song for viola – with sheet music and everything – and entered a media competition, advancing all the way to the state level.

You really are pretty fabulous (no bias here), and I’ll always be your biggest fan. I love you so much, sweet girl!


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