Willie Mae Rock Camp is a nonprofit organization centered around empowering young girls and gender-expansive youth through the art and creativity of music. Willie Mae Rock Camp is located in Brooklyn, New York, and is named in honor of the blues artist, Willie Mae Thornton. The camp teaches students to understand the teachings of composing music through new advanced technology, all while providing a safe, comfortable environment to let their creativity flow.
New director of the camp LaFrae Sci spoke about the hopes and visions for Willie Mae Rock Camp, and why it’s so essential to advocate for our youth to use music to connect. Encouraging students to be authentic and freely express themselves through music is one of the main goals of this organization.
“What I wanted to do was create a program that would service and give access to Black and Brown youth, girls and gender-expansive youth, through a tech-related curriculum that empowers and gives access to not only information, but also gear, curriculum and mentorship,” said Sci.
Sci is an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist, educator, composer and electro acoustic adventurer. She is a musician of over 30 years and has shared her talents with the world by touring in 38 different countries. Sci is one of the founding teaching members of Willie Mae Rock Camp and has shared the influences it has had on her life. “Willie Mae really shifted my perspective and I really saw how the way we approach young people creates magical miracles and allows students to just thrive,” she said.
Willie Mae Rock Camp includes programs that grant students the flexibility to be the creators of their own craft such as the Digital Mentorship, In-School Programs, Summer Camp, and Community Service Workshops/ Partnerships. The programs are entirely 100% tuition-free and continue to expand their presence throughout the world. The organization works with the New York Public library in all five boroughs and is soon to be incorporated in five of the Young Women’s Leadership schools. “My hope is that we can expand our impact,” states Sci. Going into more depth, she explained some of the future visions in store for Willie Mae Rock Camp: “We plan to create content that is available for teachers to use in their classrooms and young people to access on our youth portal, and we plan to expand our curriculum and lesson plans for other afterschool programs and teachers in school to use as well.”
Sci also further explains the importance of setting up a safe space for students to be able to be artists. “We don’t tell the kids you’re welcome here; we tell the kids, this is yours,” said Sci. The camp’s creative sound lab is truly a place of inspiration, encouraging experimentalism and the freedom of creativity. Moreover, not only does this program provide students with important skills of music, but it also emphasizes the importance of connectivity and the power of looking within. Sci explains how it’s far beyond just entertainment.
“We are also teaching the important skill of listening, not just listening to the world around them but also using social and emotional approaches for the students to listen to the voice within them and find that voice and express it, and then also realizing that the sound is healing, sound builds community, it’s not just about entertainment.”
Sci hopes to see Willie Mae Rock camp continue to impact the lives of youth in powerful ways, as she continues to educate and create a new awareness and appreciation for music.
LaFrae Sci can be contacted via email at: Lafrae@williemaerockcamp.org