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Teachers rock the stage

Rhonda Sherwin singing and playing the guitar at a show with her band, Against School Violence

Rhonda Sherwin singing and playing the guitar at a show with her band, Against School Violence

Rhonda Sherwin singing and playing the guitar at a show with her band, Against School Violence

Story: Mia Salvador, Staff Writer

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Rhonda Sherwin stepped on stage. She cleared her throat and looked out at the crowd in front of her. Feeling a little nervous, her stomach flipped as she messed with the microphone, preparing to sing the first song of the night. She quickly realized people were clapping and cheering, as she belted the notes of the night.
After 30 years of performing, Sherwin and the garageband, Against School Violence, have performed at various venues sharing their love for rock and roll. Sherwin, a Haslett High School art teacher, was first introduced to the band by her husband, and soon after took the role as lead singer.
Mia Salvador: What is the band name and where did it come from?
Rhonda Sherwin: Against School Violence. Used to be School Violence and then school violence became a real thing so we said against school violence. Since we are all teachers we aren’t for school violence.
MS: Who are all your band members?
RS: We are all teachers and professors. The lead guitarist is the dean of the School of Education at Michigan State University and my husband is the associate dean at the university and he is the drummer. And then our other guitarist was a grad student so a lot of grad students come through and stuck around so he is still with us and now a professor. Then our other singer is through MSU and she was an alumni coordinator.
MS: What does your husband do in the band?
RS: He’s the drummer and he was thinking about doing it professionally. He opened for The Grateful Dead.
MS: Could you take me back to the moment you first went on stage?
RS: You have to really prepare for a long night because you’re not quite as free and easy as you wish. As the end of the night comes you warm up a lot and it’s very fun
MS: What kind of music do you guys play?
RS: Well we are all from the 60s and 70s so it’s pretty much rock, some country and a lot of alternative rock.
MS: Where is the usual place you perform at?
RS: We perform for a big national conference so we perform in different venues for that like ballrooms and hotels and stuff. And we do Homecoming on MSU’s campus, so we perform at the Homecoming tents that they have.
MS: So how do you get gigs?
RS: We did a lot through the university and East Lansing. We used to open up for their summer concert series to all kinds of bands, but now they are a little more narrowly defined as professional bands and we are more of a sideline garageband.
MS: So what was the Spring Break gig you had?
RS: We do that every year in the big conference MSU holds for their students and alumni to come back and visit one another. It is international but it’s for MSU people only and so we always play for that and people plan on it and they come to it every year
MS: How many people on average attend your regular shows?
RS: I would say 200 or 250 or so.
MS: Do a lot of students watch you perform or talk to you a lot about the band?
RS: I have had a couple summer concerts where kids could come watch, and they did. And a lot of kids wanted to hear the music and we had one CD so I brought it in for students to listen to. I found it kind of awkward because I’m kind of a different person to have them hearing me sing like that. It’s like “oo awkward haha” because I was just in class, but if i’m performing then I don’t mind.
MS: What is your favorite song that you perform?
RS: There is a Neil Young song called “Keep on Rocking in the Free World” and I love that song.
MS: What is your favorite part about being in a band?
RS: Well, like I said you can’t get that experience without being in a group so having everyone OK when they know their part and knowing each other so long you pretty much sort of have intuition for what the other people are going to do and how they are going to react and playing music is so fun.

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Teachers rock the stage