Zionsville’s Women of Rock Prove It’s Never Too Late to Rock On!

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April 2021

Calling all wannabe rock stars! It’s time to break out the faded tees, torn jeans, Aqua Net and bring back the art of headbanging. These ladies, whom many of you know from around town, are reminding us to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” and that it’s never too late to scare ourselves and try something new.

We Love Rock ’n’ Roll

Did you know School of Rock Zionsville offers classes not only to students under 18 but also to students over 18 years old who are looking to either improve their musical proficiency or pick up an instrument with no prior musical experience? As with most School of Rock music programs, the adult program uses a performance-based music education approach. This means the curriculum focuses on learning music concepts and applying them in a live performance setting.

I spoke with three members of School of Rock Zionsville’s first adult rock band that is comprised entirely of local women: Amber Nunes, Amanda Leet, Anya Janeway, Ellie Brown, Jeanne Davis, Debbie Shook. The band’s instructor is none other than School of Rock Zionsville’s own Cyrus Youngman!

Zionsville’s Women of Rock

Brown, Nunes and Leet shared the band’s backstory and the impact that being in a legit rock band has had on their lives and their families.

“Amber had this inner drummer living in her that was dying to get out,” Brown shared. “Between the three of us, we have four kids who are in School of Rock. When Amber contacted us, it took me a millisecond to say ‘yes’ last October.”

Nunes added, “It brought me joy—that image of me jamming in a band—and I thought, why not? Let’s do it! They [School of Rock Zionsville] had just opened their doors last October, and I knew about it through Ellie and Amanda’s kids being involved, and my kids signed up, so we all kind of knew each other. So, when I had the idea [of starting an adult band], I knew immediately that they [Ellie and Amanda] would probably do it. And they did!”

Brown shared that when it came to figuring out who was going to play what instrument, she immediately opted for the lead vocal role.

“I knew Amber was going to learn the drums, and then Amanda wanted to play lead guitar,” Brown said. “I was like, ‘I’m not doing anything but singing! I can sing, and that’s all I’m going to do.’ I’m not trying out for ‘American Idol’ anytime soon, but I’m not going to make your ears bleed! And we needed a bass player, so with my sister-in-law in mind, I texted her, and her response was ‘Hell yeah—I was born to rock!’”

Brown shared that the group began with the four aforementioned ladies and a couple more women who the group new peripherally, and so they added a keys player and a background vocal to their mix. She pointed out that prior to creating the band, none of these women had experience or musical training in these instruments and vocals whatsoever.

The group practices together once a week at School of Rock Zionsville for a few hours and independently a few more hours. Their first song that they jammed to was “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” by Joan Jett, and while they are still developing their official band name, the group has already performed live just this last February with more performance dates on the horizon.

Dare to Dream Big and Live Outside Your Comfort Zone

The lesson that I’ve learned from these extraordinary and fun ladies is that you have to dare yourself to try new things, even if it scares you. Life is short. Too short not to enrich your life and advocate for your own self-care.

“I’d sit in the parking lot waiting for my kids to finish their [music] lessons and would think to myself, ‘Why are they having all the fun?’” Leet said. “So, when Amber texted and said, ‘Let’s do this,’ there was no hesitation from me. I found my inner rock star. I’ve always been a huge advocate for modeling the right behavior for your kids, and if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others? Despite the hours of hard work and practice that we put into the band, I come back more invigorated, and I know I am a better wife, mom and daughter.”

Nunes shared that these local women of rock focus on playing songs written and performed by pioneering artists like Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks and Lita Ford.

“We share this notion that you can do anything,” Nunes said. “Ask yourself what are you afraid of and just go for it. It’s an important concept, and music is very much a stress reliever and uniter of people. We try to channel that energy from those that came before us, and it makes us want to do even better and include more women in that mission.”

Nunes added, “From a mental health perspective, it is important to find that energy and creative outlets—that’s healthy. We also have to set examples for other people.”

Leet pointed out that the outlets provided by School of Rock Zionsville are every bit as important to young people who are searching for their “community.”

“There are a lot of kids who are just trying to find a community, and maybe sports aren’t their thing,” Leet stated. “I would say my community was my team at work and my college friends, but it’s never too late to make new friends, new connections and build meaningful relationships. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

Save the Date!

Come out and support these brave women of rock who will be performing live for our pleasure on Wednesday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Union Brewing Company in Carmel! But wait—there’s more! School of Rock Carmel will also be featuring their adult (co-ed) rock band that night! NO COVER and it’s guaranteed to be a ball—a headbangers’ ball!

Brown concluded, “It’s outdoors, so grab a table or stand around and enjoy some great music and doing something different and fun!”

Zionsville Women of Rock Members:

Amber Nunes: Drum

Amanda Leet: Lead Guitar

Anya Janeway: Bass Guitar

Ellie Brown: Lead Vocals

Jeanne Davis: Keys

Debbie Shook: Bass Guitar, Background Vocals, Percussion