‘Boot camp’ to offer basic training to song leaders
Jewish rockers will lead workshops on inspiring with music
Jewish rock musicians Rick Recht, center, and Sheldon Low, left, lead a “boot camp” for songleaders in St. Louis in May, like the one they will be doing in October in Scotch Plains and Summit.
If you go
What: Songleader Boot Camp led by Rick Recht and Sheldon Low
When: Saturday, Oct. 16, 1:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: JCC of Central New Jersey, Scotch Plains
When: Sunday, Oct. 17, 1:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: Congregation Beth Hatikvah, Summit
Cost: $295 (includes kosher meals)
Registration: Contact Mike Goldstein at 908-889-8800, ext. 218, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information: Visit www.songleaderbootcamp.com.
September 15, 2010
Rick Recht, the Jewish musician who has rocked the rafters of the gym at concerts at the JCC of Central New Jersey, will be back in the area in October to show religious leaders, educators, and group counselors how to inspire others with song.
He and fellow Jewish rocker Sheldon Low and some associates will conduct a two-day regional workshop they call Songleaders Boot Camp. The first day, Saturday, Oct. 16, will be at the JCC in Scotch Plains; the second, Sunday, Oct. 17, will be at Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit.
They will be working with adults and teens ages 15 and up who want to use music to build Jewish identity — people like rabbis, cantors, congregational music directors, religious school and day school teachers, and camp and youth group leaders. In the course of the 16 or so hours of instruction, they will explore the physiology, psychology, strategies, and stagecraft of effective and inspiring musical leadership.
The concept was launched in May with the SLBC National Conference in St. Louis, where both Recht and Low grew up and where Recht still lives, with songleaders and would-be songleaders from across the United States and Israel. They followed up with similar training just for teenagers.
After the May event in St. Louis, Cantor Hollis Schachner of Wayland, Mass., told a reporter from the local paper, The Jewish Light, that she had learned song leading was “a worldview, not just an activity.” She went on to say, “I had thought it was about picking up a guitar and learning some songs, but it’s really about establishing relationships and teaching Torah through music holistically.”
The NJ event is being organized by Mike Goldstein, program director of the JCC and codirector of its Camp Yachad. He said, “Rick’s given three concerts here in the past five years, and he is powerful, dynamic, and talented. He brings to Judaism a format that is contemporary, rhythmic, and cool, with rock and roll that absolutely appeals to our campers.”
Goldstein is a musician himself and the band he leads, the Shabbatones, has become a favorite feature of Friday Shabbat celebrations at Camp Yachad. He said Recht’s music has become a big part of the band’s repertoire.
“Music has been a strong part of Jewish tradition over the millennia,” he said. “It’s a really great vehicle for teaching about Judaism, and building a sense of connection. I’m hoping that synagogues and schools will send their staff members to the boot camp, to build their skills.”
The organizers say they also see the events as a way for people in the field to establish a fellowship with one another. In an e-mail about the event, Goldstein wrote that participants “will have the opportunity to connect with each other throughout the year for further collaboration and learning, while providing much higher caliber song leading and Jewish teaching through music in their respective communities.”
‘All come together’
In addition to performing about 150 concerts a year around the United States and abroad, Rick Recht is artist-in-residence at United Hebrew Congregation in St. Louis and creator of the “Shabbat Alive” musical synagogue service concept. Since switching from regular pop music, he has released eight albums of Jewish-themed music.
Recht responded via e-mail to questions about his Songleaders Boot Camp:
NJJN: What was the impetus for launching this program?
Recht: Music is an extremely powerful vehicle for educating, entertaining, and inspiring both Jewish youth and adults; however, there are very few opportunities for Jewish songleaders to engage in serious leadership and training programs. For years I’d dreamed of a creating a program where rabbis, cantors, experienced songleaders, and new songleaders could all come together to experience a serious, immersion training program that would not only develop basic and advanced songleading skills, but train the individual to reach a peak physical and emotional state before engaging in the teaching process.
NJJN: How did the name come about?
Recht: We knew this kind of program would be particularly intense and require a significant physical and emotional commitment, so we felt the military ‘boot camp’ analogy would evoke the type of commitment an individual would make to emerge feeling they had achieved a life-changing experience.
NJJN: What does it take to be a good songleader?
Recht: Great songleaders are teachers who understand how to create a sense of shared leadership by engaging and empowering members of the community to be the “stars” in a song session, concert, service, or classroom. Great songleaders also have a personal strategic road map to continue to expand their skills, resources, equipment, and beyond.
NJJN: What do “songleaders” do about people who can’t sing?
Recht: At Songleader Boot Camp, we have a series of master (basic training) and elective classes. We discuss effective techniques for including members of our communities who are not comfortable singing, who have disabilities, and behavioral challenges. We also discuss a variety of challenges that can also include sound system amplification, room set-up, timing of the engagement, age of the participants, and more.