The Girls' Guide to Rocking: How to Start a Band, Book Gigs, and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom


From greats like Patti Smith and Joan Jett to legends-in-the-making like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato, girls want to rock. They want to start bands, write songs, get up on stage, and kick out the jams. Here's the book to teach them how. Written by an obsessive music lover who's spent her life playing, performing, publicizing, and writing about rock 'n' roll, The Girls' Guide To Rocking is a hip, inspirational guide for rad girls who want to make their rock dreams come true.


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From greats like Patti Smith and Joan Jett to legends-in-the-making like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato, girls want to rock. They want to start bands, write songs, get up on stage, and kick out the jams. Here's the book to teach them how. Written by an obsessive music lover who's spent her life playing, performing, publicizing, and writing about rock 'n' roll, The Girls' Guide To Rocking is a hip, inspirational guide for rad girls who want to make their rock dreams come true.

It's everything a rocking girl needs to know: how to choose the right instrument for you, where to shop for instruments and where to avoid. How to get your band together and keep it together—tips on playing in a band with your friends and staying friends. How to turn your bedroom into a soundproof practice space. Giving your band the right name, plus a cautionary glossary of overused words (Wolf, Star, Crystal, Earth, etc.). How to set-up and promote your own shows. The freedom of going solo, and how to handle performing alone in the spotlight. Songwriting tips, with eight prompts to get the lyrics flowing. The ins and outs of recording, whether at home or in a studio. Taking care of business: publicizing your band, making T-shirts, legalese and the creative personality, and the four signs that say "time to hire a manager"—in other words, you've arrived.

Includes a girls-in-rock timeline, essential listening lists, and quotes from the greats: Nina Simone, Hayley Williams, Gwen Stefani, Carrie Brownstein, Amy Lee, Kim Gordon, and more. Now get out there and rule the world.

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  • The Girls' Guide to Rocking
    The Girls' Guide to Rocking  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This highly informational and inspiring do-it-yourself resource will guide girls toward their rocker dreams. It will also appeal to the young-at-heart who dream of being a rock star and readers and researchers of girl culture. —Elizabeth M. Wavle, Elmira College Library, NY
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
Whether inspired by School of Rock, Guitar Hero, or even High School Musical, every young musician should know how to begin the rock-and-roll journey. Hopper's excellent how-to guide is no cheap trick; the author leaves no rolling stone unturned as she tackles the formidable task of guiding the reader through the music creation process. Hopper lays it all out for amateurs or seasoned professionals, from the basics of purchasing a drum kit and creating concert promotion posters to the more complex behavioral mechanics of balancing band harmony while maintaining an individual style. The title is a misnomer. This excellent step-by-step handbook is a boon to any music lover, regardless of gender. The chatty, conversational tone keeps things light enough for leisure reading. The helpful, detailed index can pinpoint exactly where to go for a quick reference. Plentiful sidebars, music recommendation lists; easy do-it-yourself instructions (for example, soundproofing a bedroom with readily available materials); and inspiring quotations from folks in the biz make the book relatively free of kinks. The final appendix is a "rock profile," fill-in-the-blanks worksheet—always a clash with libraries—but it is a minor flaw. Hooper's book remains an invaluable addition to any music collection. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
Library Journal

Popular music and culture critic and former girl rocker Hopper provides girls who want to rock with all the insider information and tips about starting a rock band. Hopper takes it from the top with details about choosing and learning to play the guitar, bass, drum set, and piano, as well as how to work with amps, microphones, and speakers; assembling and naming the band; practicing and learning songs; recording a solid demo; booking and publicizing performances and touring; and playing a killer show. With checklists, work sheets, and recommended reading and listening lists, Hopper also includes inspirational quotes from music legends such as Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Pat Benatar, and Nancy Wilson. Hopper provides practical information that will make parents happy, too, including how to soundproof the garage for the band's practices. VERDICT This highly informational and inspiring do-it-yourself resource will guide girls toward their rocker dreams. It will also appeal to the young-at-heart who dream of being a rock star and readers and researchers of girl culture.—Elizabeth M. Wavle, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

—Elizabeth M. Wavle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761151418
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/4/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper is a music and culture critic whose work regularly appears in Chicago Reader, LA Weekly, SPIN, ANP and Chicago Tribune and has also been included in DaCapo's Best of Music Writing 2004, 2005 and 2007. She is also the music consultant for the public radio show, This American Life. Her widely-anthologized essay, "Emo: Where the Girls Aren't" was described as "influential" by The New York Times.

Holding fast to the music-is-my-life credo, Hopper has also done time as a tour manager, band publicist, DJ, touring bassist, Girls Rock Camp booster, and fanzine publisher. She lives in Chicago.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Let’s Get Ready to Rock
Take It From the Top
Play What Your Mama Gave Ya
FIY (Find it Yourself):   

  • Guitars
  • Drums
  • Amps
Picking the Right Instrument
Proper Care and Feeding
Guitars—All Kinds!
Keys Open Doors
  • Keyboards in a Nutshell
Your Voice
Hot for Teacher
Finding a Teacher

Chapter 2: Making the Band
Band Together
Start Where You Are
Best Friends, Best Bandmates
Wild Combination:

  • Finding Your Match
Style Wars
Let’s Stay Together:
  • Keeping the Peace in Your Band
Endless, Nameless:
  • Finding a Name
Solitary Girl:
  • Being a Solo Artist
Express Yourself:
  • Lyrics and Songwriting
Writing it Down
The Rules of No Rules
Practice, Practice, Practice
How to Practice
Feeling Discouraged

Chapter 3: Recording
Is This Thing On?
Do It Clean
Ballad of Big Something:

  • Setting Goals
It’s Gonna Take Time, A Whole Lot of Precious Time
How Do You Know You Are Ready to Record?
All I Need is One Mic
Recording Your Drum Sound
Preproduction for Recording
What is a Producer, and Do You Need One?
In the Basement:
  • Home Recording for the Solo Arteest
Gang of Four:
  • Tascam Four-Track
Chapter 4: All The Way Live
Ready, Steady, Go
Some Notes on Stage Fright and Bad Shows
I Was Meant for the Stage
One is the Loneliest Number:
  • Performing Solo
The System and the Packer Who Abides by It
Putting On Your Own Shows
Going Book Wild

Chapter 5: Turn It Up
Mind Your Own (Band) Business
Duty Now for the Future
Accessorizing Your Band

Appendix A: Essentials of Rock
For Your Listening Pleasure
Movies and Films

Appendix B: In the Garage
Getting Started in GarageBand

My Rock Profile

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    Really awesome!

    I bought this book because my friend and I wanted to start a band and I really had no idea where to start. This is exactly what I needed! It has so much information on anything you would have questions about. I used to be afraid to go into a music store and look at their equipment, but after reading the chapter about buying equipment I waltzed right in there and had an informed conversation about their PA systems. We put up posters in all of the local music stores advertising for a guitar player for our band. There's a section in the book that tells you how to design posters for that purpose. I've even written two original songs! All thanks to this wonderful book. Jessica Hopper is such a funny writer, and I enjoy reading her opinions and tips. This book is perfect for any girl (or even guy!) that wants to start a band or go solo.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by K. Osborn Sullivan for

    First of all, THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO ROCKING isn't just for girls. Its target audience might be girls who are interested in starting a band, but there's so much great information in this book that it's a useful tool for anyone who wants to make music. In fact, if you have to buy a gift for a guy who rocks, I'd almost suggest that you get this book and use a piece of electrical tape to cover up the word GIRLS' on the cover. Explain away the duct tape by saying the book is punk or distressed or something. The only other way he can tell this book was written for girls is that the rock star quotes are from women, but no one should complain about getting rock career advice from the likes of Patti Smith and Amy Lee.

    THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO ROCKING is packed from cover to cover with everything a budding rock star needs to know. It starts with instruments, including which ones are most commonly associated with rock bands, brands available, finding a teacher, and much more. There's a chapter on putting a band together, keeping it together, rehearsals, and even how to come up with a catchy name. Technical information about writing songs and recording music is provided for more advanced readers who are looking to take the next steps in fulfilling their rock dreams.

    The book even includes an appendix about how to use the recording software GarageBand. There is also a whole chapter on finding and booking gigs, which includes cheap, creative ideas for making posters and band merchandise.

    This comprehensive guide has something to offer a wide variety of musicians, regardless of their goals. Beginners who just want to buy a second-hand guitar and pick out a few chords will get tips for where and how to find decent used equipment. If you want to get some friends together to start a garage band, you will find tips for helping make that a fun process for everyone involved. For those who have their hearts set on full-scale rock stardom, this book can be used as a how-to guide for everything from writing music to signing a contract with a record company.

    The book has a funny, down-to-earth tone that makes it easy and enjoyable to read. In addition, its focus on female musicians is empowering to girls who want to break into an industry dominated by men.

    I highly recommend THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO ROCKING for both musicians and the people who love them. Girls who are looking for information about making their own music should definitely check out this book. Parents or grandparents have finally found a cool gift for the music-minded girl in their lives. And one of the best things about the book is that even non-musicians can enjoy it. Not being a musician myself, I learned a tremendous amount about instruments, bands, songwriting, and recording.

    After reading this book, I was even able to have a rational conversation with my 16-year-old guitar player son about drum kits and the music he was recording. Any book that can help me do that rocks!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted December 15, 2009

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    Posted December 18, 2009

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