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The kids are all right

Bad Habit picks up good band habits at Arts Whistler's School of Rock

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The three musicians of rock band Bad Habit are having words about how good their set list is as they rehearse at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

The words "That song sucks!" are being thrown about, and more thoughts are exchanged about the musical choices they are making and how to play them.

"Hound Dog" is coming off pretty badly, so the guys go with Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" ("This song is for all the lovers out there!"), an excellent Canadian substitute.

They play it piece by piece, practicing some of the tricky parts, trying to find their own version of it.

From The Rolling Stones to The Tragically Hip, every band everywhere does this — but the guys in Bad Habit aren't even in secondary school yet.

It's clear that Calum Mishaw on drums, Mickey Furey on guitar and bassist Lochlan Harvey are already on the road to becoming solid musicians. They are Grade 6 and 7 students at Myrtle Philip Community School, and they are learning how to be a band in Arts Whistler's School of Rock program.

When the rehearsal takes a break, courtesy of a broken guitar string, and the boys are ready for their first-ever band interview.

"We learned 'Free Fallin'' on Thursday, and then we got other songs down better — 'Rocking in the Free World,' 'Taking Care of Business,' says Mishaw.

Harvey pipes in: "I'm singing that one (meaning 'Taking Care of Business') and 'Lovers'... I know I have gotten better in the last five weeks because before I could play but I couldn't sing."

Confidence comes from practice, he agrees.

"Normally, we're in the garage and we only have one mic. I like everyone having a mic... it kind of keeps it in the circle," Harvey says.

Mishaw adds: "I keep it all together because I'm the drummer, I keep the beat."

Not to be outdone, Harvey reminds him: "I'm the bass player, I keep the rhythm."

The three were already playing together before the School of Rock program, they say. They are currently rehearsing twice a week.

Quiet until now, Furey joins in.

"We started playing together as a band last October, because Calum and Lochie played with our teacher, who plays guitar, at lunchtime. I heard them and came into the room to start jamming with them. Our music teacher said she would have us play at the Christmas concert," Furey says.

Mishaw explains how they tapped into their inner Ozzy, quipping: "And we played 'Crazy Train' for the Christmas concert!"

Harvey continues: "We started playing in the garage after Christmas and we've been practicing ever since and then School of Rock."

Bad Habit hopes to play at places like the Whistler Farmers' Market this summer.

"We'll put a little hat out, maybe get some money," Furey says.

And thus a band is born.

Guitarist, songwriter and Whistler Music Search winner Emily Molloy runs the program, which was started in March by Arts Whistler, with two six-week programs (for age groups 11 to 14 and 15 to 18) for bands and individual musicians who want to launch themselves as performers.

"I've always taught kids, even as a teenager. I taught swimming lessons and taught skiing most of my life," she says.

"Music was the next thing for me to do, I guess. It's a great program. The kids are doing really great things."

She says she is working with two bands right now, Bad Habit is the younger and the older group of high school musicians is "also awesome."

"I didn't even start playing until I was 20. If I'd had this opportunity when I was their age, I would have been all over it," Molloy says.

"They are listening to each other, playing better, and learning how to jam better. This program is creating the next generation of Whistler musicians. It's awesome to watch them grow with each class."

Molloy says this program ends shortly, in Bad Habit's case with a free concert at Maury Young Arts Centre on Monday, May 15.

They hope to offer the program again, starting in the fall.

For more information on this and other Arts Whistler programs, visit www.artswhistler.com.

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