The Institute for the Musical Arts is a nonprofit that serves as a women’s retreat, school, and recording studio. But the IMA is best known for hosting a rock and roll camp for girls.  

In August they’re recognizing their 35th anniversary with a festival held at their Goshen compound, and Producer Dave Fraser brings us the story. 

Explore the music of IMA’s June Millington in this digital exclusive feature. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: The Institute for the Musical Arts is a nonprofit that serves as a women’s retreat, school and recording studio. But what they’re best known for is hosting a rock and roll camp for girls. This August, they’re recognizing their 35th anniversary with a festival held at their Goshen compound and producer Dave Fraser brings us the story.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: It’s early in the week of a ten day summer program at the Institute for Musical Arts in Goshen. 12 teenage girls are in Evelyn Harris’s vocal class. Some have been to IMA before, but most are here for the first time and want to expand their interest in music.

Simone Pagar: Music makes me really, really happy. I have had music in my life ever since I was a little kid.

Marcy Meehleder: Even if I can’t pursue it at a professional level, I definitely want to keep playing.

Kayona Firinne: I’ve been singing basically all my life, so it’s – that’s kind of just my thing. I also play guitar.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Located on a 200 year old farm. The Institute for Musical Arts was co-founded by Ann Heckler and June Millington. Millington has been called one of the godmothers of Chick Rock, a fitting nickname for a woman who, along with her sister Jean, formed the band Fanny in the late sixties. One of the first all female rock groups to sign with a major record label.

June Millington, Artistic Director: I realized the second year that we were doing it. Oh my goodness, I am feeding me. I’m teaching the me I was when I was 16 and we had no support. Yes. We’ll work on that phrasing. Some of them, yeah, they’re real shy and they need to break out of that shyness. And music is a great way to do that because it shines a light on you, on yourself.

Ann Hackler, Executive Director: We started out working with peers, just women in music because there was no space for women at all. And then eventually we saw that – It was medicine for for kids, this music, and for girls and really, really empowering, and that’s why we started working with young people 20 years ago now.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Leah Badenoch is from Belchertown and has been coming to IMA since she was 12 years old.

Leah Badenoch: I started out just playing the drums and now I’ve picked up piano at IMA and also guitar.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: This is Olivia Morey’s first year.

Olivia Morey: I thought that the pictures of the place look really cool because I like this sort of area. I like being outside, and I thought it would be nice to not have to deal with the pressure of living around boys.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Along with the morning vocal class, the girls learn drums and percussion and music theory. At night, they can take private music lessons in the barn, which doubles as a 3000 square foot recording complex with instruments of all kinds electric and acoustic guitars, drums and a grand piano.

Ann Hackler, Executive Director: At the beginning of this week, they’re doing their bonding thing. They’re all getting on the same page. Some of them are advanced, some of them have never done anything like this before, so there’s a lot of just sort of getting it together, you know, like what’s possible here, because it’s a big, huge leap that they’re taking right now.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: But the week culminates with a concert that they perform for family and friends.


Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: After the concert, the girls had a chance to reflect back on their week.

Kayona Firinne: I think it was really fun. It was. I’ve never been like a part of a group like this collaborative, this welcoming of each other.

Marcy Meehleder: I’m so proud of everyone and what they’ve done at this camp and the things they accomplished.

Penelope Black: Can’t believe that it’s been ten whole days. It feels like no time and I wish we could have more because it’s been amazing and I’m definitely going to come back next year.