Beginning in April, Orange County Music and Dance, (OCMD) will launch Operation Gig, a new program designed to help veterans cope with the unprecedented stress and devastating consequences resulting from the current COVID-19 health crisis.
During this challenging time, veterans and their families are experiencing a disproportionate level of stress and risk. Veterans have been especially hard hit by the rigorous demands of quarantine and the social isolation that goes with it.
In response, OCMD has created an important new musical program to help veterans, and the community at large, cope, heal and thrive again. The program is totally free to all participants and provides the rare opportunity to join a band, for those who so desire. Spouses, family members, and children 16 years of age or older, are also allowed and encouraged to participate.
Operation Gig is a program designed specifically for military veterans and those still on active duty. To enhance the eight-week program, OCMD has teamed up with the well-known non-profit Rock For Vets, founded by Frank Mcllquham. Operation Gig features three different options for participation: Learn, which offers eight 60 minute group classes for beginners (no experience necessary) or those who need a refresher; Jam, which includes weekly 90-minute jam sessions for instrumentalists who want to play, while improving their skills and enjoying the companionship of other like-minded musicians; and Band, for experienced players who want to collaborate with others and perform in front of an audience.
The goal is to provide the sense of camaraderie and bring back the ‘esprits de corps’ that’s been missing for so many during lockdown and quarantine.
“As a non-profit performing arts school, part of our mission is transforming lives through music. We know that music heals. Studies show it decreases anxiety and agitation, reduces depression, and provides a safe and enjoyable emotional release. It takes us to another place where pressures are relieved, our minds are cleared, and our bodies relax. Music is a universal language that everyone relates to and we want to use it to help heal the community,” stated Doug Freeman, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OCMD.
“At Rock For Vets we are dedicated to improving the lives of veterans, at-risk youths, and other groups, through music education. Music is one of the best means to recreate the rare bond and solidarity that vets have with each other. We believe these programs can be beneficial not only to vets, but the entire community,” explained RFV founder Mcllquham.
Operation Gig will supply participants with everything they need, (including professional coaches, instruments if necessary, lessons and instruction, and eight, weekly 60-minute classes or 90-minute rehearsal sessions, to be held outdoors at Orange County’s Great Park.) And whether you’re a little bit country–or a little bit rock’n roll—or a little bit something else–band members are free to play any genre of music they choose, from classic rock, to jazz, blues, country, or anything else. At the culmination of the program, the veteran bands will perform in several outdoor community concerts to be held at various sites within the Great Park.
All appropriate Covid safety measures will be strictly enforced during each class, rehearsal and concert performance.
So if lockdown brought out the secret desire you’ve always had to ‘release your inner rockstar’, play guitar like Van Halen, sing the blues like B.B. King, or belt out a song like a Broadway star, now is your chance. Join us to make some music, make some friends, and just have some fun again, in a safe environment and supportive community.