WALLA WALLA - The halls of Lincoln Alternative School rocked all week as a group of about 70 teens attended an alternative camp at the school.
For the second consecutive year, the Walla Walla Symphony, school staff and numerous community volunteers teamed up to teach dozens of youths at a Rock and Roll Camp.
"Practice is the best teacher," said local rock legend Gary Winston, who taught guitar. "A little bit every day until it becomes a habit," he added.
For those who were more into the beat, percussionist Glen Ayers drummed in this advice: "The idea is that drums make their own melody. It becomes more than just a beat. And the idea that one part is not more important than all the parts together."
And for the center stagers behind the mic, voice instructor Erika Ingersoll had this to say: "The voice is your instrument. And it is a muscle that needs to be developed and practiced."
Sound advice was provided from about a dozen music coaches. And though the number of teens participating in the weeklong free camp was down by about 20, the decibels were up due to a new P.A. system at the school.
"We wanted the real deal," Lincoln Alternative School teacher Anthony Barba said. So when the money was budgeted for the school to buy a new P.A. system, he and other staff made sure it could handle some live fuzzy guitar, screaming vocals and pounding beats.
"We just got a super rock and roll one because we knew we would need it for rock camp," he added.
On Friday night music blasted across Crawford Park, as close to 20 Rock and Roll Camp bands took turns performing in a live concert.
"I still get nervous as I am playing. But after the playing, I go lay on the sidewalk," Kristina Savelesky, 15, said at a practice session a few hours before performing at the market. In the world of rock music, you might call Savelesky a triple threat, since she plays drums, guitar and sings.
But Rock and Roll Camp is not just about rock and roll.
Coordinators also brought in an instructor who could help teach the more traditional band camp kids like Joy Hagar, who plays trombone.
Walla Walla Symphony CEO and trombonist Michael Wenberg was the man who led a small group of teen trumpeters and saxophonists in a jazz rock fusion performance on Friday night. But his was the only trombone.
It turned out that after five years of school band trombone playing, Hagar wanted to try something she had always wanted to do - to sing for a rock and roll band.
"I like singing. I just want to sing a lot. I sing a lot at home," Hagar said.
So on Friday night Hagar sang the Beatles classic "Here Comes the Sun," minus her trombone.
And while kids like Savelesky and Hagar seemed to steal the limelight, Rock and Roll Camp also offered something to teens who didn't want to be on stage.
All week, classes were offered in various marketing and support areas, like making T-shirts, earrings, bracelets and other memorabilia, learning about sound backup, creating videos and slide shows and other support areas.
And the kids weren't the only ones having fun.
"You got to love it. I would do this for free. I get paid to do it. But I would do it for free," Ingersoll said.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8325.