By BandWorks co-founders Jeremy Steinkoler and Steve Gibson
Ever since we were kids, we wanted to play music. For years we attended our lessons, practiced until the wee hours of the morning, and formed bands with our friends, all the while dreaming of rock stardom. But that was a long time ago….
One night in the summer of 1993, we were hanging out after a late rehearsal talking about teaching music. We had each been teaching private lessons for a number of years, and agreed that the biggest problem facing our students was that they didn’t have the opportunity to play with other musicians. We talked about wanting to create a venue where our students could play together – one where we could offer them the kind of practical, hands-on musical advice that we wished we had gotten as younger players, but had to learn the hard way over years of working as professional musicians. What’s more, after a few weeks of practice, our students could even show off their skills at a live concert in front of family and friends.
From that inspired conversation, the idea for BandWorks was born. After a few months of planning, we set up shop in a small room at a women’s shelter in Berkeley, where we had to move furniture for 20 minutes every class just to make enough room to play – and load in all of the equipment and pack it up and take it home every class! We started with just six students, whose enthusiasm and rapid progress showed us right away that we were onto something really cool. The first BandWorks concert took place in a tiny room at Jackson St. Studios in Oakland, with a packed house of about 25 people. Our students and their families and friends loved the show. We could hardly wait to do it again….
Since then, BandWorks has grown into a substantial community of musicians and teachers all around the San Francisco Bay Area. Our summer camp program now includes classes in Audio Recording, Introduction to Rock Band Instruments, Rock Band, and the Music of… series, and is offered at additional locations during the summer months. We offer after-school programs at several different schools in the Bay Area, and plan to expand our programs to many more communities.
…and the philosophy that grew out of it
The idea for BandWorks was born out of a desire to help musicians find other people to play with. But as the program evolved, we realized that we weren’t just connecting musicians with one another to share in the experience of playing in a band – we were also teaching values.
At the core of the experience of playing in a band are listening and cooperation, and collaboration toward a common goal. At BandWorks we stress the importance of this collaborative process, and the need for communication, respect (for ones’ self and for others) and ownership. Playing in a band means being responsible for your part, investment in the outcome, and not letting your bandmates down. It’s a commitment to trying to sound your best, to your own improvement as well as that of the whole band. And when it works, the rewards are profound.
Throughout BandWorks’ evolution, we have remained committed to offering a fun and encouraging environment for musicians to play in a rock band, meet other musicians, develop their skills, and perform live on-stage. We have made it our priority to offer an inclusive and fun program and to build the supportive community of musicians that has become heart of BandWorks. This commitment is reflected in quality of the teachers in our program, and also the relentless dedication to customer service by our staff.
We would like to thank all of the musicians who have participated in our program and have helped make BandWorks the thriving program it is today. We look forward to BandWorks’ continuing growth and are committed to maintaining the quality and integrity of our program as our community expands.