Last week, I got to participate in one of the coolest things I've ever done. The Maine Academy of Modern Music hosted a Rock Camp all last week at the Bangor Arts Exchange, in conjunction with Launchpad, a local non-profit. The Maine Academy of Modern Music, or MAMM for short, also a non-profit, does these camps all over Maine during the summer, and all year long out of their home base in Portland.

The basic mission of MAMM is to bring kids together from all walks of life, and help them be creative through music. The kids choose their own songs, learn them with some easy guidance, name their bands, and perform at the end of the week to show all the hard work they've put in during their time at camp.

I've known Jeff Shaw, the director of MAMM, for several years now, and was involved a bit when I still lived down south. I hosted the MAMM Slam a couple times, which is their annual battle of the bands for kids throughout Maine, and have also judged the event a couple times as well. When my old band in Portland used to do all-ages shows, we often had MAMM bands open for us, to give them a chance to experience as much of a real rock show as they could.

So when the opportunity came for me to actually teach a group of kids, I didn't hesitate for a second. And it turned out to be one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. I've played in front of thousands of people, on some of the biggest stages in the northeast, and I don't know if any of those times can hold a candle to how good it made me feel to watch these kids progress and learn, and encourage each other.

Maybe we lucked out, but all week, these kids complimented each other, helped each other out learning parts, and never argued or disrespected each other in any way. It was really amazing to witness. Even at lunch time, after we'd been playing music for about two and a half hours straight, they could only make it about 15-20 minutes before they'd start picking up their instruments all on their own and start jamming.

When all was said and done, it left me with a feeling of great hope for this generation of kids. To see such maturity and motivation were truly inspiring. A few days later, and I'm still not sure who got more out of last week, me or them. Sadly, because of copyright issues, I can't share any of the videos. Trust me....these talented youngsters were absolutely amazing!!

But I know that when it came time for me to get back to my own drums this morning for my daily practice session, I just channeled those amazing kids and took a page out of their book....and just had fun playing my instrument.


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