Girls Rock! (and Teachers Rock) During American Music Masters Week

Wednesday, November 11: 12 p.m.
L-R: Rock Hall education manager Stephanie Heriger with educator Nancy Boutilier. Photo: Rock Hall/J

Rock Hall’s Education Manager Discusses Tuesday’s Teachers Rock Event

It’s hard to watch Girls Rock!, the acclaimed documentary about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, and not be moved.  As a woman, I saw myself – every part of myself – in the girls featured in the movie.  As a female musician, I wished that I could have attended a camp like this when I was younger (or now, for that matter).  As an educator and former elementary school teacher, I recognized a lot of my students (male and female) in the stories told on-screen.  And as a member of the Education staff here at the Rock Hall, I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the world of Girls Rock! and the legacy of this year’s American Music Masters honoree – Janis Joplin.  I realized very quickly that Girls Rock! would be a great way to get teachers to think about and discuss a lot of the complicated issues surrounding teaching in the 21st century – all through the power of rock and roll and the lens of Janis Joplin’s life and music.

Yesterday afternoon, as part of our monthly Teachers Rock series, I was joined by over twenty teachers from across Northeast Ohio to do just that.  We were lucky enough to be joined by Nancy Boutilier, an area educator and active musician featured in the film.  Having worked as a bass teacher and band manager at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls since 2004, Nancy gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the camp and revealed some of the story behind the story of Girls Rock! And as a high school teacher for fifteen years, Nancy also helped us to recognize the camp-classroom connection.  Participating teachers left with resources and lesson plans pulled from our own educational programming here at the Rock Hall, including materials exploring the cultural history of the 1960s and the musical legacy of Janis Joplin.

It seems more than fitting to showcase a film like Girls Rock! as part of our American Music Masters series honoring Janis Joplin.  Listening to Joplin sing is an experience – that voice is undeniable (you can read more about Joplin’s signature vocal delivery in Jason Hanley’s blog post below).  Simply put, she was a performer who demanded that she be heard.  And her voice spoke to and for a generation of women who struggled to find, and to claim, their own voice – in an industry and a society largely dominated by men.  In a way, the Girls Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls owes Janis Joplin a debt of gratitude.  I know I do.



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