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Stand back, Beck and U2. The Power Chord Academy Inc. is building an army of new talent to compete for the big time in rock 'n' roll.

The Los Angeles-based company this month announced its 2003 schedule of weeklong summer music camps for young people. There's one in Chicago in June, and another in Los Angeles a month later.

Budding musicians ages 12 to 18 get to record a song, star in a video, and learn the ins and outs of breaking into the music industry.

"Kids come in from all over the world," said Brian J. Joseph, a spokesman for Power Chord, which has offered the camps since 1998. "There's an enormous amount of energy. It's really cool."

Last year, participants came from more than 35 states and 10 countries, he said. At the start of the week, they are placed in bands based on common musical interests. They rehearse all week, with an instructor on hand.

Beyond the jamming and recording, the camp also includes seminars on topics such as songwriting, starting a band, getting signed to a label, and promotions.

While the students get plenty of help and encouragement, Mr. Joseph said they also get a reality check on the difficulties of making a go as a professional musician.

"It was pretty fun," said Drew Delionback, a 16-year-old guitarist from Sacramento, Calif., who attended the camp last year. "You're just playing all day. Your fingers are like, sore." His band played punk rock.

Mr. Delionback, who rated the quality of the bands from "pretty good" to "terrible," said he learned what it's like to be on tour, especially if you're in a band that hasn't quite reached the pinnacle of success.

"It's hard to be on the road," he said, recalling the account of one instructor who sometimes slept in a van while touring. "You don't get to shower very much."

Mathew B. Gottesman, a 16-year-old drummer from Los Angeles, is a Power Chord veteran, having attended the past three summers.

"It helps you learn how to work with other people," he said. But after three stints, he's had his fill.

"It's great if you've never been in the studio before," Mr. Gottesman said. "The first year, I remember thinking: 'That's what I sound like?'"

The fee for the camp is $1,095. But compared to the millions these students could make if they become famous, that's chump change.

—Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 22, Issue 24, Page 3

Published in Print: February 26, 2003, as Take Note

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