TIMA ‘School of Rock’ dreaming of ‘Journey’ to meet rock legends

Local school band hoping to see firsthand what it takes to be a rock star
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 1:40 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2023 at 4:26 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island Maritime Academy isn’t your typical school, so, maybe it’s no surprise that they don’t have a typical school band or a typical field trip in mind.

Instead this small school band is hoping to see their dream band on the big stage in Savannah to find out firsthand what it takes to be a rock star.

“When most people think school band they typically think like marching band or concert band or maybe even jazz band,” says TIMA Music Teacher Amanda Whitfield.

But that’s not the case here at the Tybee Island Maritime Academy.

“Instead of learning the traditional band instruments like flute, clarinet, trumpet, we play rock band instruments,” says Whitfield.

These middle school students rocking out to some classic rock. Which may come as a surprise given their age but according to Whitfield it was their choice.

“The students in the band class, their music tastes are a little closer to what your parents listen to. Like, 99 percent of the songs we play…the students have suggested.”

The most recent choice, Separate Ways by Journey.

A song that’s been a big hit.

“Journey is one of my favorite bands,” said 8th grade vocalist Will Dowling.

“I was really excited and wanted to give it my all,” fellow vocalist, 7th grader Lilly Prewitt says.

“Just listening to the guitarist shred on the guitar, and even listening to the drummers is amazing,” added 7th grade guitarist Ellie Ayala.

And it didn’t take long for these young rock stars to do some shredding of their own.

“We’ve worked on it two or three weeks at this point. They learn really fast,” Whitfield says.

Which was even a bit of a surprise to them. “Listening to the guitar part of it is just really inspiring because like, I can do that, I never thought I could,” said Ayala.

While learning the song itself is quite a feat they’re hoping to have the opportunity to learn firsthand from the band behind the hit song, who just so happen to be in town this week playing at Enmarket Arena..

“Get to see the behind the scenes things that go on with putting on a rock performance,” said Whitfield.

Seeing flashy things like, “the sound check!” Ayala says.

Giving these budding stars a chance to learn from the pros.

“It would definitely be awesome to watch them warm up, get ready, and maybe even talk to them about what it’s like to make the songs together,” Ayala adds.

“I feel like it would give me a lot more confidence in singing,” says Prewitt.

Building confidence and opening eyes to what’s possible.

“They see something else in the music industry they could be interested in like sound engineer or light engineer or even an instrument tech,” Whitfield says.

But even if they aren’t welcomed with ‘Open Arms’ Ms. Whitfield hopes they ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ even if they go their ‘Separate Ways.’

“I hope they never lose their passion for music regardless of whether they pursue it as a career, I hope they keep the love of music they seem to have now.”

Journey takes the stage Wednesday evening at 7:30 at Enmarket Arena in Savannah.