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Getting your rock out at Victor Litz

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Published on: Thursday, April 04, 2013

By Donna Broadway

GAITHERSBURG – Vicky Nuttle is crooning Melissa Etherege’s “Come To My Window.” With each word, her reddish brown bob sways from side to side. As the song reaches a guitar break, Mark Amberg steps from behind the keyboard to show the proper notes to Rob Bower, who has taken over acoustic guitar duties for this song. This is not a band in rehearsal; this is the latest session of Victor Litz’s workout academy of rock, or W.O.A.R.

The band, unnamed for now, is comprised of four guitarists, two singers, one drummer, and one keyboardist. W.O.A.R is a spinoff of Schools Out Academy of Rock, or S.O.A.R, for children.

The popular academy of rock was started in 2005 after Amberg and Tony Litz, owner of Victor Litz Music Center, began thinking of ways to offer after school instruction to talented children who may only play at school or at home. Interest among adults was so large that they started W.O.A.R a few years ago.

Amberg, who is also a teacher and choir instructor at Clearspring Elementary School, was nervous about teaching adults.

“I was really nervous the first time I did it because I am used to working with children,” Amberg said. “I’ve played in bands with adults, but I’ve never gotten a group of adults together who didn’t know each other and have different abilities as far as being able to play and have different interests in music.”

The participants range in age from 25 to mid-60s, and they have careers ranging from government contractor, graphic designer, master electrician and computer science teacher. But one thing they have in common is the desire to learn and play music.

The current session began in March and will run until May, ending with a 12-song concert at Hershey’s Restaurant & Bar. The participants will have a hand in picking the songs they perform, and they even get to name their band.

Amberg said anyone who is interested in honing their performance skills is welcome to join regardless of previous experience and skill level.

“This is not a performance ensemble. What we’re trying to do is give everyone experience. That’s why we don’t say no to people. If they want to join us and they play guitar, we will make it work and everyone will play a different part,” Amberg said.

Doug Damon, a Verizon contractor from Boyds who plays the electric guitar in this latest session, said the program has provided a different experience that allows him to grow as a musician.

“It’s great because you play guitar and you sit at home all by yourself and that’s one thing and then you get in the group and it’s totally different,” he said. “You are hearing singing, bass, drums, and other guitars and he’s yelling at us, it’s a much more complex environment. It actually helps you understand the music better and it’s actually improved my skills.”

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