My project started when my band was rehearsing one evening: As usual, all of my friends came to my warehouse I rented to hear the band play. We called this little haven the "Shed Shed"; It was a safe place for my friends to be after school and a good place to have a jam room. After this particular practice, my friend Alexis asked if I could teach her how to play the drums. I taught her the basics and sure enough, she was a natural. I told her [jokingly] that if she kept up playing like that, she'd end up replacing me in the band. I never had seen her smile that big. I felt really good inside that night, and I realized that she had never known that she had a talent for the drums. I began to wonder how many people have talent, but just don't have the time or equipment to try new things. Within that week I put up fliers around the school advertising the Shred Shed. We were already a fairly well known band, and my campaign pushed into popularity. Sure enough, more and more people started to come to the Shred Shed not only to hear music, but to explore their own creativity. I provide free lessons and we always let someone stand in for a song or two. Being in the school drum line and in theatre arts, I never knew how many kids never picked a drum sticks up or expressed themselves. It's been about a nine months since I started this project, and I feel a sense of achievement knowing that I not only helped my piers explore their creativity, but provided a safe spot for us to be ourself and escape the stresses of school or social problems. Everybody seemed to belong and fit in at Shred Shed. Even though we started as just a small band, I feel like we have been creating something very special within the community. Every month, we pay the rent for the warehouse, and lately money has been scarce. We might have to close the Shred Shed if money doesn't come soon.
Abe Van Vleck