Project For All Ages Leaves Aberystwyth Rocked!

Music students of all ages from Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire descended upon Aberystwyth’s Morlan Centre last Saturday for The Rock Project 2018. Groups of children aged between 7-18 performanced for the majority of the shows, with the encore being made up solely of their adult counterparts.

The Rock Project was founded in Denbigh in 2005 and has since expanded to include franchises across the nation. In recent years, expansion has continued; the group has  operations to Ireland, Spain and Bangladesh, being present in as many as 80 schools around the globe.

Lisa Wordley and Liesa Smith are the co-proprietors of the local The Rock Project franchise which covers Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Shrewsbury. Wordley believes the gig is important to help build confidence among the performers, both young and old alike. “Some of the adults have never played or sung on stage before,” she remarked during our conversation. “With professional lighting and sound, it will have all the atmosphere of a major gig, and the students have been working hard on making a real performance”. The importance of giving children and aim to work towards cannot be understated; in taking part in something challenging and fun, they learn useful skills and healthy attitudes toward life, for all ages who participate.

Annette Davies, a mother who had travelled to watch her 8-year-old Eden perform for the Carmarthen Junior band agrees with Lisa. “The end of term concert gives them something to focus on,” she said. Eden, who had received an electric guitar as a gift 6 months prior was keen to get lessons for it and her mother stumbled across The Rock Project on Facebook. She was so impressed with what was on offer she encouraged Eden’s sister Willow to attend also. Willow, however has a goal of her own – “I’m going to be a footballer!” she excitedly exclaimed. Nevertheless, she is proud of her sister and is happy to support her dream.

As Carmarthen Juniors took to the stage, Eden’s pink electric guitar was in full view; it sport stickers which you may expect from a rock band such as barbed wire, and some less so, like a guinea pig. The band mostly stuck to rock classics, giving renditions of “We Will Rock You” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Not to be outdone, the Aberystwyth Juniors (who call themselves The Blades) had plenty of guitarists and bassists and broke out a smoke machine in true rock style. The Blades are an array of experience.  9-year-old drummer Ioan has attended lessons for 3 years and this was his second performance, while fellow 9-year-old Alis has only been going to guitar lessons for 3 months. The Ysgol Cymraeg Aberystwyth pupil had always wanted to be in a band, and through some friends who were part of the Rock Project, decided to give it a shot. Needless to say, she stuck with it and worked hard!

Next up – the Seniors from Aberystwyth and Carmarthen. With arguably the best band name yet, the Death Unicorns from Carmarthen sang more modern hits like“Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man and “All Star” by Smash Mouth, which gained notoriety from its inclusion in 2001’s Shrek. 12-year-old guitarist Natasha, who attends Ysgol Dyffryn Taf in Whitland on the Carmarthenshire-Pembrokeshire border, started music lessons after her ballet class moved away, giving music a chance. The Aberystwyth Seniors – named Geostorm closed the children’s performances before being joined by the tutors in “One Way or Another.”

As the afternoon gave way to the evening, the adults encore session brought the day to a close. While some of the younger attendees had already left, it wasn’t long before a mosh pit opened up. The lyrics of the adults’ songs remained family friendly; a certain Kings of Leon song was retitled “Shed is on Fire”. The adults still thoroughly enjoyed their time, probably more so due to the alteration. Members of the group each got time to lead vocals before returning to the instrument of their choice. Perhaps most impressively about this performance was unlike the children, the adults had only 10 weeks to prepare for the concert with many having never done anything like it before.

Despite this primarily being an event for families, I must confess that I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the gig. As someone who never had music lessons other than the compulsory lessons at school, I was impressed to see just how readily these young people picked up the art. The determination, drive and sheer talent of these kids was just awesome to see.  The adults too – with many in a similar position to myself (that being not so musically inclined), decided try it out, persevered and were soon able to perform on stage. It’s evidently never too late to follow your dreams and The Rock Project exists to enable and encourage yours.

Lessons for children are weekly throughout the school terms and resume after the Summer holidays. Adult courses start in September and run inline with the return of students to the University. The first adult session is a free taster, which makes booking essential as places are very limited. If you wish to continue, payments are made weekly and you can sign up straight away! £20.00 is required per the full hour and a half session, which are held each Thursday throughout the school term from 6.30pm at St Padarn’s Primary School Hall.  For full details or to reserve a place just contact [email protected] or call 07533 417 768. No previous experience is required – you’ll learn it all with The Rock Project!