Produced by

Girls Rock! Here's How.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jessica Hopper, author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking: How To Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom, discusses the essential first steps for young female rock musicians.

Tell us: Are you a young female musician? Do you know one? Post your questions (and advice) below. We'll be reading them during the show today.


Jessica Hopper

Comments [27]

Saffire band member from NY

hey! i'm responding to Jennifer from NYC. I'm one of the band members of "Saffire" and i just wanna thank you for that comment :) haha We have more videos on youtube and you can check out our website ""
And to John Schaefer and Jessica Hopper - I really enjoyed listening to the broadcast. You rock!!!

Jul. 23 2009 10:17 PM
Joe Boucher from NY, NY

happyNYC: "every once in a while,at a gig - some one (usually a guy) will ask me if I'm a 'groupie'. What's a good response to that?"

Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker responded to such questions, "We're not here to [expletive deleted] the band. We are the band."

Jul. 22 2009 02:55 PM
Soundlanguage from JC/NYC

Advice for the gals looking to join a band who's members are all guys- if they're cool they'll give you a chance to show your chops or will at least play/practice with you to see if the "vibe" is right or your sound style fits in... Uncool guys won't bother and give attitude, which says they're not serious about playing music but are more into hanging out as "dude's" tend to do.

My theory is in the "olden days" (like you grandpa's age and older) before everyone was "in a band" (though not particularly serious about playing music or working on the craft) young guys had other outlets like bowling leagues, meeting at the local bar, stickball, pool, dominos, cards, played sports or were in a similar style social clubs. Now it's as if you're basically a gamer or a rocker, sad.

Anyway, don't be bothered with naysayers, haters, don't ask permission or give off the whiney whiff of "why won't they let me play too?". Forget the advice books, forge your own path! History is packed full of girl-bands who rocked, and made it. Hope you have fun and even make some money... Btw, save your pennies from that part-time job- gear & practice space is wicked expensive!

Jul. 22 2009 02:50 PM
MG from NYC

One other book touching on this subject that folks may enjoy is Helene Stapinski's Baby Plays Around.

Stapinski is a journalist and this is her follow-up book to her wonderful memoir Five-Finger discount.

Here's a brief excerpt of a description from Publishers Weekly at "Stapinski evocatively recounts her life in 1990s New York City, where she tries to balance a freelance writing career with the responsibilities of a new marriage while playing in a rock band led by Julie, one of her interview subjects. Her account of learning to play drums as a teenager by sneaking into her brother's room to play his set is a touching piece on the secret joy that rock music can provide "to hold on to those last, panicked moments of childhood lost." She also captures the strange exhilaration that comes from relentless rehearsals and performances in dingy clubs, and her exploration of her love for the music of Elvis Costello is touching."

Jul. 22 2009 02:42 PM
Emily Moeller from Brooklyn, NY

Hi everyone -
Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls has a community-based after-school program in the works, so for girls in NYC who are having trouble convincing their parents to buy them a drum kit, this could be the answer!

Also adult women: if you wish there was a book like this/Rock Camp when you were a kid - it's not too late! Come to LADIES ROCK CAMP, an adult version of Rock Camp for Girls. We've got 2 sessions this summer and there are still spaces left!

Jul. 22 2009 02:38 PM
Sady from Brooklyn

@TJ from Brooklyn
I think the "divas" you're talking about are the girls/women who are confident enough and aggressive enough to work their way into the bands (full of guys). I had been playing guitar since age 7 by the time I was in high school, I had given it up by then but all the guys I hung out with had bands and I would hang around WAITING FOR THEM TO ASK ME TO JOIN THEIR BANDS. Because I was shy and not confident in my musical skills. I am so sad I missed that opportunity to mess around with music and have fun. That's why I support Willie Mae Rock Camp! And this book is awesome! And I'm playing guitar again finally.

awesome segment

Jul. 22 2009 02:36 PM
Kathy Libraty from Brooklyn, NY

My daughter, Elisa (17 years old and home schooled) started playing with rock & Roll bands through the Gawanus Music Club in Brooklyn last summer. She has written several songs, two of which she has recorded. She has really blossomed dramatically in the past year, learning to play guitar, getting along with boys and being the lead singer in several Rock bands now!

Jul. 22 2009 02:35 PM
Elisa from NYC

The first time I ever saw a girl play in a band where she wasn't there to look pretty, and she wasn't even there to sing, was when I saw Jawbox, with bassist Kim Coletta, in the early 90's, in Cleveland Ohio. She was up there, rocking out, looking fierce, and playing her heart out, on a bill with all boy bands, (including Jesus Lizard). I saw her, and I realized, hey, I can do this! And later that year I sold my flute and used the money to buy a guitar.

Jul. 22 2009 02:34 PM
Erik from NYC

Regarding drums, if you have the money there are electronic drum kits that you can use with headphones. These may be more interesting to aspiring drummers than practice pads.

Jul. 22 2009 02:33 PM
Amy from Manhattan

For the flute-playing sisters whose father called in: a lot of saxophone players also play flute, because the fingering is the same. This can work the other way around, too--the girls could learn a different embouchure & switch to sax. I know it's not as prominent in rock as in some other genres, but it's not that rare, either.

Jul. 22 2009 02:33 PM
Jena from Brooklyn

How about girls in indie or punk bands, like Vivian Girls? They've said it's hard to be taken seriously as punk girls, not pretty girls. Can you talk a little about that?

Jul. 22 2009 02:30 PM
TJ from Brooklyn

Hi, first, let me say that I have much respect for what your doing, looking at the book, its a great idea, I book shows in the New York area, and find the biggest problem that girls face, is and I hate to say this but the diva stereotype, theres allot of girls who join bands, and only want to be the frontwoman, and not have to be involved in the actual promotion, song writing etc. Not saying this is all girls in bands by any means, but I have seen it and unfortunately it leaves a sour feeling in allot of peoples mouths. What are your thoughts on this?

Jul. 22 2009 02:27 PM
Caryn Havlik from New York

Dear Michael,

We all have to start somewhere. The decks are stacked against women from the gate. There are fewer of us, we are cute and pretty before we are taken seriously as players. I think that what Jessica's book is making clear is that we all start somewhere. And where there are no understanding and tolerant role models of any gender, her book is a great guide.

Jul. 22 2009 02:26 PM
Jennifer from NYC


Jul. 22 2009 02:25 PM
happyNYC from NYC

I'm 25 and have a indie band in NYC(PaperDoll) - we toured Ireland last week, sold 3,000 albums (just at shows), and play all over the city.

I write the music, book gigs, promote, write press releases...yet every once in a while,at a gig - some one (usually a guy) will ask me if I'm a "groupie". What's a good response to that?

Jul. 22 2009 02:25 PM
Grace from Brooklyn, NY

Great interview! I'm gonna get your book. I am a lady who started playing guitar at 28...started bands threafter, have been in multiple bands since, and play lots of shows. Music/writing songs/being in bands is my life now and I wouldn't want to do anything else. It is never too late or too early to begin.

Jul. 22 2009 02:24 PM
Sady from Brooklyn

ohmygoodness I am so happy to hear this being talked about on the radio - thank you! thank you!

Jul. 22 2009 02:24 PM
Bob Stone from Shrub Oak, NY

I'm a guitar/bass teacher. Half my students are female. I'm having trouble finding a bass player for my own group so, I've been posting on my blog the bass parts written in notation on Bob's Blog which you can find by going to

Jul. 22 2009 02:23 PM
Jennifer from NYC


Jul. 22 2009 02:23 PM
Josh Farrar from brooklyn, ny

I recently wrote a middle-grade novel about a 12-year-old girl who starts a band at her middle school. It comes out on Walker Books for Young Readers in Spring 2010. I didn't have a specific grrl-power theme in mind, but as a male writer, I wanted to write from a girls' point of view to avoid both guy-rock cliches and the temptation toward autobiography. Along the path toward publication, I met a lot of inspiring tween girl rockers, and am thrilled that there seems to be a growing well of creativity among these young women. Rock on!

Jul. 22 2009 02:22 PM
Rebecca from Brooklyn

I really needed this book when I was younger. I was a band geek and played a lot of horns and loved music, but I didn't try actually rocking out until I was 29! I bought a cheap drum set and started taking lessons. After a few months, I started jamming with friends and now, two years later, I am in a band and have played several shows around NYC.

I wish I knew that I could have done it sooner. Rock out, girls!

Jul. 22 2009 02:21 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The guest just underlined my point: No muscial skill? No problem! No talent? No problem! No clue? Read my lips: No problem! After all, it's not about music. It's about everything else, but not about music. Never was.

Jul. 22 2009 02:21 PM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

This book and the rock camps institutionalize and neuter the individuality and rebellion that makes rock music vital.

Jul. 22 2009 02:19 PM
Caryn Havlik from New York

Yes! When I was growing up, it felt like boys have ALL the information. Sometimes it still does. Congratulations to Jessica for her book!

Jul. 22 2009 02:17 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Musically, they all sound the same. Totally predictable and not an original note to be found.

As for what they have to say, snore.

In fact, the entire subject is one big snore. More homage to the shallow, callow, self-absorbed, self-involved, navel-gazing youth culture.

The "world of rock", indeed!

(But c'mon Michael, tell us what you REALLY think!)

Jul. 22 2009 02:17 PM
Jennifer from NYC

Wish I'd had this book when I was a girl!!!!!!

Jul. 22 2009 02:11 PM
Joe Boucher from NY, NY

Excellent intro music! I love "Rebel Girl"! Almost as much as I love Kathleen Hanna her own bad self! Why can't I stop using exclamation points?!

Jul. 22 2009 02:08 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.