Roberto Clemente Middle School was rocked Tuesday night as groups of teenagers carrying axes and pounding drums attacked and shredded the stage in the auditorium at the school. And the crowd of students, parents, and administrators went wild.
The school held the first annual Battle For The Bands competition, in which six eighth grade bands from the school’s Advanced Rock Band class took the stage performed as part of a fund raiser to help cover the cost of an upcoming field trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“This event was a huge success,” said Randi Levy, a music teacher at RCMS. “Staff and parents came out to cheer on these students and support arts in the schools. RCMS is the only middle school in the county to a rock class as part of its curriculum, which is part of the Rock in Schools volunteer initiative which brings MCPS music teachers together to bring rock band classes and instruments to middle schools where student have free access to the instruments and music, according to Randi Levy, a music teacher at RCMS. “Music classes for all, instruments for all,” said Levy.
The evening featured six bands of eighth graders. The bands were; 24/7 Recession, Fade to Black, Stray City, The Endless Street, property of, and Internal Outsiderz.
As students gathered around the stage to cheer on classmates, the bands’ performances were judged by a trio of teachers, American Idol style. Bands were judged on preparedness, originality, audience interaction, quality of presentation, and performance, according to Levy. Crowd enthusiasm was measured by a decibel meter to gauge how well each band related to the audience.
The competition was judged by, RCMS chorus teacher Sarah Lee; RCMS Spanish teacher Dan Esteban; and paraeducator Harold Hall. The event was hosted by RCMS physical education teacher Dave Hudson, who played the Ryan Seacrest role introducing each act, interacting with the judges, and interviewing band members.
“The judges took their roles very seriously,” said Levy, “and provided on the spot feedback to the bands. They pointed out strengths such as energy, interaction with the crowd and how well the band sounded.”
All the bands received prizes donated by Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center, but in the end 24/7 Recession was named the grand prize winner.
“The bands spent the last several weeks choosing their song set and rehearsing for this competition. Band members could have family and friends pledge funds toward the cost of their upcoming field trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” said Levy. The bands also created a marketing campaign and promoted their band with posters and announcements in the school.
“Clemente Music Rocks is always on the lookout for performance opportunities and this idea was a great way to play ‘at home’. The bands liked the idea of creating their own set and battling against other bands. We hope to expand the idea and battle other schools so that others can experience the amazing talents of these rock stars,” said Levy.
The success of the rock band program at RCMS has prompted House Studio DC, a well-respected professional recording studio in Washington, D.C. to commission a documentary on the rock band program at Clemente. The film, which is currently in production, will be submitted to the DC Shorts Film Fest in April.
Top: 24/7 Recession perform at Roberto Clemente Middle School’s Battle For the Bands.
Next: The Endless Street perform.
Next: The quartet known as property of rock out at RCMS Battle For the Bands.
Next: Internal Outsiderz closed the show as the RCMS Battle For the Bands came to a close.
Photos curtesy of Randi Levy.