Rocking Out Her Passion for Music at the School of Rock

Music helps sophomore Avery McCracken express herself, from giving her courage to dress how she wishes, to her discernment about her top two career paths, music and teaching.

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Photo courtesy of Avery McCracken

McCracken stands on stage, about to perform with her band from School of Rock. McCracken is determined to start a career in music. The studio manager of School of Rock, Jessica Flores, believes she can do it. “I think her wanting to perform as a career is awesome,” Flores said. “It’s not an easy path to walk, for sure, but I think with passion, determination and grit, the sky’s the limit.”

Aline Gonzalez and Nadia Shirr

The crowd standing in front of the stage danced and sang along to the music played by the School of Rock House Band. Although every member of the audience has different styles and are of different ages, they are enjoying the music and for now that’s all that matters. Sophomore Avery McCracken, School of Rock student and performer, believes music is something that connects with everyone and it allows people to express their best selves. 

To practice her music, McCracken currently takes lessons at  School of Rock, which she has attended since February of 2021. McCracken tends to perform at places that have rock music playing, but in order to get the chance to perform first, she is required to reach a certain skill level. To reach that skill level, McCracken had to take voice lessons for four months in order to perform. The Studio Manager of the School of Rock, Jessica Flores, enjoys the frequent conversations she has had with McCracken. “The first thing I noticed about Avery was how friendly and talkative she is,” Flores said. 

McCracken likes many different types of music, but currently her favorites include grunge artists like Alice in Chains in Pearl Jam. She also enjoys Mitski’s music, so she has sung “Francis Forever” in her School of Rock Auditions. If she passes her auditions, she’ll make it to the House Band, which will mean that she’ll be eligible to sing at summer tours and more community events. 

The School of Rock team travels all throughout Virginia. They’ve performed inD.C., Leesburg, and Moorefield Station. One of McCrackens’ favorite concerts she has played at was the concert she calls “Glam Rock Show.” At this show, all the band members dressed in glitter outfits with crazy hair. “People were dancing, having fun, and I was singing my heart out, I was jamming on stage,” McCracken said, “I think that’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been on stage.” 

Although McCracken has a passion for performance, feeling confident in a style on stage was more tricky.  A fear of judgment from her audience kept McCracken from expressing herself. “I wasn’t trying to branch out, to find my own style, because I was afraid that if I did, I would get picked on,” McCracken said. It all changed once quarantine started and McCracken had the time to dress the way she wanted. “When we started hybrid, that’s when I found a lot of friends who had similar styles as me, that’s when I started to publicly dress like that,” McCracken said. 

One of her close friends, sophomore Lily Bridges, appreciated Avery’s new style. “I loved her style, I think she found something she was really passionate about and I was really glad that she found that hobby,” Bridges said.

People were dancing, having fun, and I was singing my heart out, I was jamming on stage,” McCracken said, “I think that’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been on stage.”

— Sophomore Avery McCracken

Her favorite style is “gothic” because she sees it as intricate. Most of McCracken’s styles are inspired by artists she listens to today, such as Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees. “[Siouxsie] is one of my favorite singers. I really enjoy her fashion and I aspire to be like her,” McCracken said. McCracken heard this style of music from her parents, who introduced it to her at a very young age. 

While McCracken has had a passion for singing and performing for as long as she can remember, that doesn’t stop her from wanting to be an elementary school teacher in the future. Choir teacher Jordan Markwood, who teaches McCraken on 2nd block A days, was happy to know that McCracken had planned to become a teacher in her possible future. “I think it’s awesome to have people who love what they do, wanting to share that passion with other people, I think that’s what makes the best teachers,” Markwood said. “I’m excited that she would want to share what she loves with other people.” Although there wasn’t a specific teacher that drove McCracken into pursuing teaching, she has had the opportunity to learn small life lessons from every teacher she has ever had.

I think it’s awesome to have people who love what they do, wanting to share that passion with other people, I think that’s what makes the best teachers,”

— Choir teacher Jordan Markwood

McCracken has plans to continue trying to pursue a music career as well as educate young minds. But for now, she will keep practicing to get better and hopes to one day write her own songs. “I like to write my songs based off of artists like Interpal and Joy Division,” McCracken said,  “I make music based off of their genres like Dark Wave, New Wave, and sort of Indie.” With the multiple talents McCracken is accumulating, she wants to be able to use them to make a successful name.