Be Natural Music Santa Cruz
July 2019

Summer School of Rock

Local music school offers kids a chance to join a band and play gigs

By Nik Jones 

Bathed in colorful stage lights and shrouded in a dense, milky cloud from a fog machine, the six members of Full Disclosure rocked the stage of the Rio Theatre in June.

They were one of four bands recording an original song written during Be Natural Music’s weeklong summer band camp.

Be Natural Music Santa Cruz

“There’s something about having that opportunity to be on stage at a really good gig, and not having to stress about all the issues that come with being in a band,” said Emily Marschall-Niswonger, 15, who played saxophone and synth for Full Disclosure. “They have it there for you and you just get to play and totally shine.”

Be Natural Music offers these “Real Rock Band” classes year-round, and the bands get gigs in well-known venues around town, including the Kuumbwa, Louden Nelson and Don Quixote’s.

Matthew Pinck started teaching music classes more than 20 years ago, and Be Natural Music evolved out of that.

“We do professional photography and videography and then we make a band page for each band,” he said, which he believes sets them apart from other local music schools. “They can use it to get gigs.”

“I play bass,” said Natasha Ackerstein, 10, who participated in the summer band camp. “It was hard to find music lessons but we found Be Natural and then I started.”

For kids who are just picking up an instrument, they have private lessons, and once they can hold a beat and play in key, they can join one of the bands.

“There were times when my daughter didn’t feel like she had a whole lot to live for and Be Natural was there.” Said one of the parents who attended the recording session at the Rio. “It gives the kids a chance to get on stage and get over the whole stage thing. They have a lot of fun and it’s been really good for them.”

There are usually openings in some of their bands, including right now an all-girl reggae band is in the works and seeking a drummer and a bass player.

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