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The Girls’ Guide To Rocking

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Although not always acknowledged, women have always been integral to the rock scene. Nowadays, they make up half the bands on the charts, sell out stadium concerts, and make headlines worldwide for their music, fashion, and shenanigans. Bjork, Joan Jett, Sleater-Kinney, Siouxsie Sioux, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Janis Joplin, Bikini Kill, Blondie, The Ronettes, PJ Harvey, Wanda Jackson, Aretha Franklin: the list of trendsetting female musicians goes on and on. If your daughter would like to add her name to the list, then she has a lot of hard, but doable, work ahead of her. Everything she needs to know is laid out systematically in Jessica Hopper’s The Girl’s Guide to Rocking.

Playing music may be a free-form, spontaneous activity, but forming a band is a calculated process. The book covers the two aspects of band formation: the day-to-day management and the abstract. Starting a band is about more than choosing a name: it’s about business. You need to write songs, get gigs, promote, create a demo tape, and, eventually, hire a manager. You also have to decide on a name (which should not involve the words Earth, Crystal, or Star), make t-shirts, and develop an image. All these essentials are covered in the book in an accessible style.

The author, Jessica Hopper, is a feminist music critic made famous at age 16 for being the spokeswoman for the Riot Grrrl movement in a Newsweek article. She has been in the music scene since she was a teenager herself, and knows the ins and outs of the business, working with legends such as Patti Smith, who, by the way, endorses the book.

Watch PBS Arts From Cleveland: Women Who Rock on PBS. See more from The Arts.

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