Tracey Shipley
Youth, family and addictions counselor/creative therapist/band organizer and manager/event producer/writer

Great Summer Music Workshop Camps

Our Rock Music Camp
Flier for our upcoming Rock Music Camp created by Tracey Shipley

As a trained Addiction Counselor and Art Therapist, I have used many modalities of creative arts to touch the hearts of the young people I work with. When beginning my work with young addicts I used the arts to help them to express themselves and later did the same in the Methadone Clinic where I worked for close to a decade in Jerusalem. When I came back to Israel over 13 years ago I began a project with Ethiopian youth using the arts to help them connect with their culture and heritage. Finally, I arrived at the conclusion that as powerful as many of the arts are for expressing feelings, music seemed to be the most effective and universal.

The kind of music you listen to can actually identify aspects of your personality. A rocker, a punk, a metalist, you name it. Kids see other kids with the same kind of t-shirts, piercings, tattoos, jeans, jewelry, and more and immediately gravitate to the person they identify with.  Outfits identify if they listen to Imo music, Heavy Metal Music, Rock Music, Punk Music, even classical music.  I see so many teens and young people walking down the streets of Jerusalem with a guitar on their backs and get excited that they have found a passion in music. It has saved so many from going in the wrong direction, though as we well know, does not insure it as we have seen with the “27 Club” where we lost so many of our favorite musicians at that age, most recently Amy Winehouse.

Working at Mesila, a locked-down facility for troubled girls, the girls are convinced that I am a hippie engaging in drug use and Nature Fests known for their drug and alcohol activity. They base it on the way I dress and the music I listen to, which definitely leads itself to that conclusion. Then I share with them that I was always the sober friend they turned to when that life got in their way. I shared I can lose an arm or a leg but not my brain. Taking drugs in my opinion is like Russian Roulette, you never know what effect it will have on you.

As we all know, music creates community and a social scene, be it concerts, dances, parties, or a way to chill out.  It’s actually been called a “Social Lubricant”. It also gives kids and others a chance to shine in a way that they might not be able to in their day-to-day life. It can give them the self-confidence they need to approach their peers and feel like they are worthy to belong. My short-lived live music club for kids, The Sobar, created a family of musicians of all ages and backgrounds. It was such an influential experience, even though it’s been closed for over six years, that I still get asked “Are you Tracey from the Sobar?” Or “Wow” You have no idea what that place meant to me or to my sister, etc. I see kids who graced the Sobar stage when they were 16 and now perform in semi-professional and even professional bands. Bonding happens through music as does a sense of belonging which according to Maslow’s hierarchy is next after food and lodging.

Therapists and psychologists have used the arts and music in particular for years in order to communicate with their adolescent clients. They have found that while using the arts you can speak about everything since the focus is on the Art and not directly on the teen. This creates a much less uncomfortable situation and makes it easier for the young person to communicate.

So now what? I have seen a renaissance of live rock music shows through my rock bands and rock festivals here in Jerusalem. Hard to believe that besides Yehi Zaken, the founder of Blaze Rock Bar, and countless Heavy Metal festivals he has organized over the years, I seem to be the only one organizing Rock festivals in the city. The young bands have afforded all of the kids an opportunity to learn how to communicate with the group, to agree and disagree on the musical direction in a caring and mature way, and how to work as a team. All four of my bands this year became like family.  They are now their closest friends and for those who were involved in drugs and alcohol they switched their “drug of choice” to music stating openly that they no longer need it because they have the music and their band.

The Jerusalem School of Rock band Century 8 performing at the Modular Club photo taken by Tracey Shipley founder of the JSOR

This summer I am trying something new. Four-day intensive workshop summer camps based on Rock music and another based on Metal music. With every new project, there is always a rocky beginning but I am convinced that we will make it work and produce a group of exceptionally knowledgeable young people appreciating the importance of music in their lives and the world around them. They will also acquire knowledge about writing songs, creating the appropriate music for their songs, how to form a band and work together as a successful team, and actually forming a band preparing for performances in the future.

Over the years I have seen kids come to me insecure and scared to get up on stage to perform in front of their peers and family. Slowly they become confident and not only stand on that stage, they belt out their songs and share that they have never felt so amazing in their lives! I have parents sharing that their kid is virtually another person, confident and with a new kind of joy in their eyes.  One of these girls who experienced amazing changes has been with the project for over two years but already after a few months here is some of what her mom had to say: “The JSOR has been an incredible experience and a vastly positive influence on my daughter. The group has exposed her to a diverse circle of youngsters that she never would have met. She has found a safe place to express her deepest emotions through her creativity of music. She has developed a “voice” and gained immense confidence. Performing on stage has not only cultivated her talent but also facilitated her ability to speak up for herself and create stronger bonds of friendship. I can’t think of any better tools to accompany my child as she transitions into adulthood.”

On that note, here are the details of our first Summer Camp Workshop endeavors. Next week we will be hosting our teen/young adult Rock and Roll Music Camp beginning on Sunday the second and continuing for the next three days of intensive work in the field of music appreciation and creation.  The camp will be run by Alon Lifshitz who has guided most of the bands of the Jerusalem School of Rock over the past two years leading one of them to win the Jerusalem young band of the year! The following week will be our Metal camp beginning on July 12 extending through the next week until the 17th ending with a performance with a well-known Heavy Metal Band at Blaze Bar on the 18th.  We have the honor of hosting Daniel “Geanieking” founder and leader of the outstanding Middle Eastern Metal Band “Arallu”.

Flier for our Metal Camp created by Daniel “Geanieking” facilitator of the Metal Camp

Should you or someone you know have teens or young adults interested in our camp workshops please let me know. There is limited space available. “Rock On”!

About the Author
Tracey Shipley is a youth and family counselor specializing in addictions and family communication. She was born in the US and moved to Israel in 1984 to continue her studies in Art Therapy. She moved back to the US in 1989 and began working in a drug rehab for teens where she was trained while she worked as a primary counselor. She moved back to Israel in 1996 and continued her work in addictions at the Jerusalem Methadone Clinic for a total of 9 years. She initiated projects for the children of the addicts at the Methadone Clinic, Established a program for Ethiopian Teens educating them about their culture and opened the Jerusalem School of Rock program which helps to create teen rock bands and established monthly teen music events at downtown venues where teens perform for their friends in a teen friendly exciting atmosphere. In addtion to her projects Tracey was the English Speaking Volunteer Coordinator for Emunah Jerusalem succeeding in bringing in more funds and volunteers than ever before. Tracey organizes monthly Rock Festivals and manages rock bands young and old. Tracey also writes for Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post.
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