Shandy on the big stage

Shandy Sarantos has encouraged all aspiring musicians to whatever chances come their way.

Hout Bay’s Shandy Sarantos will travel to America to perform at Lollapalooza, one of the biggest musical festivals in the world. 

Along with vocalist Rosie Bruce, the pair have been chosen to be part of Claremont School of Rock’s AllStar programme, joining the top musicians from the School of Rock’s international network of schools. 

The 17-year-old will embark on a 10-day tour with her band mates with nightly gigs at different venues, including Lollapalooza, the legendary music festival in Chicago.

Shandy joined the School of Rock in August 2015, just three months after the school opened its doors. 

“I had seen the American movie School of Rock starring Jack Black and never thought that it could become a reality. Once my family and friends had seen the Cape Town school feature on eNCA, it became my dad’s mission to take me there. 

“I told him that I would never go as an ordinary, amateur player as I was not cut out for a school like that,” she said. 

“My dad tricked me and pretended that we were going to the movies, and despite kicking and screaming, I have never looked back since, and it was the best lie my dad has ever told!”

Leigh Spaun, School of Rock Cape Town marketing director and co-owner, says this said the opportunity put young musicians in front of public audiences, in a real-life gigging scenario and in places they had not yet experienced. 

“This is an authentic tour experience, with travel and tour buses, performing at authentic rock venues and culminating in a performance at a big music event,” said Mr Spaun. 

The AllStar programme is the highest level of achievement for a School of Rock student, with less than 1% of the 35 000 global students selected to participate in the programme.

Candidates are nominated each year by their local schools to participate in a competitive audition process, including a video submission round and a live audition round, from which the AllStars are then selected.

“The fact that these young musicians are selected to be part of a touring band, are given their songs to learn on their own and then come together for two days prior to their tour and rehearse together as a band for the first time, is a learning experience on its own. Both Shandy and Rosie have a desire to continue performing for people, and this experience will teach them valuable skills in how to communicate effectively with other band mates and people, how to perform together as a cohesive band and the pressure of performing in front of varying crowds within difference environments.”

Shandy, who attended Llandudno Primary School, is now in a funk fusion band with other players from the School of Rock community, and she hopes to get their original music out there and experience more gigs.

She said playing music made her feel free.

“It started out as an escape and has become an escape with expression. It feels so free while playing because you can decide what to produce and the learning is endless. When performing, you have the opportunity to silence everyone and evoke emotions and ideas in others, and that is a truly sensational feeling.”

Mr Spaun said Shandy had shown natural musical ability since day one.

“She came to us as a killer funk rhythm guitarist and has developed into a player with an array of skills. Her lead playing has blossomed with greater technical proficiency and a deeper understanding of music.”

As Shandy experiences this opportunity of a lifetime, she encourages all aspiring young musicians to take every chance – small or large – that comes their way.

“You never know what might happen. Hout Bay is an excellent launching pad with a variety of awesome spots to express yourself and showcase your talent! Locals are always open to supporting young musicians and we also offer great fish and chips.”