Girls With Guitars

The Town of Faro will soon be taken over by teenage girls on a mission.

Musical instruments in hand, they will immerse themselves in music for a four-day weekend at the first-ever Faro Girls Music Camp, beginning June 2.

The camp is being organized by Whitehorse singer-songwriter Kim Beggs and Heather Grantham, who runs the Faro Girls Night Out group in the central-Yukon community.

“Grantham has a girls’ youth group that has been going on for about seven years now,” Beggs explains. “They meet about once a week and they do a lot of fun stuff together.”

The idea for the event began to emerge during a weekend retreat the group took part in last year at Sundog Retreat, north of Whitehorse.

“She [Grantham] identified various people in the community to come out and do some workshops with the girls, so I came out and did a workshop on music,” Beggs recalls.

“We started just throwing around ideas on how to put together something a bit bigger that could include girls from around the Yukon.”

The idea that stuck was a weekend music retreat for girls aged 12-18. Grantham began a recruitment campaign that included distributing information to Yukon schools. The effort yielded 30 registered participants.

In addition to a songwriting workshop that Beggs will conduct, the weekend will feature workshops in guitar, banjo, fiddle and voice, led by Yukon musicians Kate Weekes, Kim Barlow, Keitha Clark and Barbara Chamberlin.

“The music is going to be a combination of traditional music, old folk songs, with simple chord progressions and accessible melodies, so that it is easier to pick up.”

The students are also being asked to list the top three songs that they would like to learn during the camp.

Students are coming from Haines Junction, Whitehorse, Mayo and, of course, Faro.

Beyond the basic music lessons, the camp instructors will also offer seminars that take a different approach to working with music.

“There’s going to be Ottawa Valley Step Dancing, Yoga for Musicians. Each instructor has the freedom to choose what they want to offer to complement the camp,” Beggs explains.

That freedom includes any discussions that may come up related to the music industry.

With the emphasis on appearance and sexuality prevalent in contemporary popular music, this environment can provide a forum for the young musicians to address some of the pressures this produces.

“These discussions can happen in the classes,” says Beggs. “We’re trying to make it a relaxed and enjoyable environment where topics like this can come up.”

Grantham, with the Faro youth group, named this year’s camp “Inspiration 2011,” to reflect the atmosphere of building confidence in the young women who will be taking part.

“It’s about building confidence and empowerment through music,” says Beggs.

While the camp itself is for Yukon girls, there is a complementary boys’ event taking place the same weekend, open to the young men of Faro.

“It was important to us that they don’t feel left out,” says Beggs. “It is all happening in their hometown, and we wanted them to feel included.”

The boys will be working with the band Speed Control, made up of musicians Graeme Peters, Spencer Cole and Jody Peters. (See Rock in a Rush in this issue.)

The students will arrive in Faro Thursday for dinner and orientation. They will then take part in workshops throughout the weekend, with a chance to perform for the community.

There will be a dance on the Saturday night where the students will showcase what they have learned.

The camp’s participants will be developing their skills in a territory already known for producing an impressive range of musical performers.

“There is such support for artists in the Yukon. At such an early stage in their career, they can get exposure” says Beggs.

“I think that the earlier you start performing, the earlier you go under the magnifying glass. You start self-critiquing a lot earlier.”

Performing allows a musician to look at their work and see what sounds good and what needs changing. At the same time, Beggs stresses that the emphasis of the camp is not solely on public performance.

“Music is about feeling good. You can create music and not perform it for anybody, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s between you and the universe.”

The Town of Faro is no stranger to musical invasions. The Farrago Music Festival was a much-anticipated event for a number of years. In fact, one of the first public performances Beggs ever gave was on the Farrago main stage in 2002.

As an organizer, she expects the impact of the camp, which is funded through the Arts Fund and the Town of Faro, to spread beyond the participants themselves.

“We want to involve the musicians of the community as well, so that there can be continuity after the camp.”

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