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Activities / Teens/Tweens

My favorite guitar hero

You are the Music Makers. You are the Dreamers of Dreams.

~Dog House Music’s motto

Before Ryley’s week at Dog House Music’s Rock & Roll Camp for Teens began, I can’t say he was much of a music maker. Dreamer? Of course. Most kids are experts at dreaming big dreams.

He is the proud owner of an electric guitar. It was a much-wanted eleventh birthday present, but he wasn’t sure what to do with any of the six strings. He could improvise and pretend to rock out like any kid in Generation Guitar Hero, but he lacked direction and education from someone other than my husband or myself. My music training is limited to 4 years of public school-based violin lessons. My husband had more years of musical training, but not with guitar.

Dorky mama with her memories of pizzicato do not a rocker make. I can make dreams of spaghetti for dinner come true, but that’s about as far as my abilities go. If Eddie Van Halen had me for a mom, he’d be bagging groceries right now.

Ryley was recently offered the chance to learn guitar skills, song writing, and the business side of being in a band. We were excited to turn him loose and see what he could do. He would be taught by professional working musicians in an actual music studio.

Dog House Music, located in Lafayette, is one of the premiere music studios on the Front Range. They have 17 rehearsal studios that are home to local, national, and international musicians and bands. Dog House Music provides live and digital recording services, as well. One of the coolest things they offer are intensive music camps for children, teens, and adults.

Kids come from all over the country to be immersed in the week-long rock and roll camp experience. They receive private instruction on their chosen instrument. They are placed in a band with other kids. The bandmates learn how to write songs together, promote their band, and at the end of the week the bands perform their songs together at a local venue. The show is filmed and recorded.

When I heard how much they packed into each session, I was slightly skeptical it could all come together.

Here is my proof that Dog House Music was one of the best things to happen to Ryley’s musical education: When he took the stage with his band, The Legendary Jets, and played the first note on his guitar? I totally cried.

He was so good. Stunningly good. They took the chaotic style of a kiddo trying to play on his own and channeled it into something amazing. Ryley and his bandmates, Z. and M., performed 3 original songs and a Led Zeppelin cover. They were entertaining, energetic, and skilled.

I was in awe not only by my son, but by the program. It works.

One of the best parts of watching the show was noticing Ryley’s instructor for the week, Nathan, beaming with pride and getting into the performance of his students. Everyone we encountered at Dog House Music was professional and talented. Ryley was in good hands. He was challenged to go beyond the electric guitar, playing bass on one song and performing lead vocals on another.

I have asked Ryley to share his impressions of the week. I can gush all day about how blown-away I was by his camp experience, but I am not the one who got the commemorative t-shirt and performed for a cheering crowd. Here are some of his thoughts:

My week at Dog House Music was awesome! On the first day we got our bands and my band mates were M. who played the electric guitar and Z. who played the drums. I played an electric guitar too. Minutes after we got our bands together, our band coach came in and we made our first song, “Summer Vacation.” Our band is called The Legendary Jets. We performed last but we still had a blast, and we got to wear costumes. I loved performing the most because I enjoyed singing in front of the crowd. I loved the camp!

Ryley is already talking about going back next year. It seems like a long time to wait. He and he bandmates have vowed to keep playing together, too.

Luckily, Dog House Music offers music lessons, weekend intensive workshops during the school year, and Rock & Roll Birthday Parties.

If you have a rocker under your roof who could use skilled instruction, direction, and a chance to shine, Dog House Music has weekly sessions running throughout the summer. Ryley attended a camp for teens ages 11 -17. There are half-day Junior Rocker Camps for kids ages 6-10.

And if you are a closet rockstar who sings into a hair brush and does wild solos with the broom when you should be sweeping the kitchen, look into Fantasy Rock & Roll Camp for Adults.

It’s never too late to be a maker of music, a dreamer of dreams.

Author: gretchen

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  1. What a great experience for Ryley and his proud family. The music camp has launched him into a way to express his creativity with a growing confidence and skill.

  2. This whole post just made me smile. What an amazing experience and camp. There truly is something for everyone. I had no idea Colorado had such a treasure in our backyard!

  3. Oh man! I wish we were in Colorado! Sounds awesome!

  4. What a wonderful program! It sounds like it was the perfect thing to transform Riley from a mere guitar player into a rock star. I would have totally cried too. 🙂

  5. What a great program! I could see your smile and your tears of joy in your writing. I can’t wait to say, “I knew that famous Ryley guy when he was just a youngin’!” 😉

  6. You know what’s extra awesome about this? You know Ryley well enough to know that he could/would benefit from this camp. You are reflecting back to him the gifts and talents he has. That’s incredible. He’s very blessed (as are you).

  7. My son just completed at week at Dog House and we LOVED IT, too!! My 12-year-old son has been playing drums and guitar for several years now, and this summer camp took him to a new level. The gig at the end of the week was amazing. We will always cherish this experience. Everyone was so nice. I just wish Gary could open up satellite studios all around the Denver area. We don’t live in Lafayette, which was a little hard on our family, but totally worth it. 🙂

  8. My kids have been taking electric guitar and drum lessons at Dog House for about 6 months, and I can’t say enough good things! They really bring music to life, music to my kids’ lives, and music to our home. Dog House rules.

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