Friday’s Fierce Female- Mandy Rowden
Meet Mandy Rowden—a 34-year old professional musician, founder of Girl Guitar, and all-around good time. Her Girl Guitar classes have taught hundreds of women how to play guitar in a fun-loving, laughter-filled, wine-laden environment. And, when she’s not teaching others, she’s writing songs, making albums and playing in venues across the country.
Mandy shares her thoughts on pursuing your passion, what matters most in life and her dream roommate…
What made you create Girl Guitar? Girl Guitar happened very organically. I’d been teaching piano and violin for years at Austin School of Music and tried unsuccessfully several times to start a women’s guitar class. It wasn’t until I moved to New York and back and found myself crazy broke and unable to pay my cell phone bill that desperation set in and I wrangled enough gals to sustain a 6 week class. What I thought of as a one-off way to pay my phone bill ended up being so much fun that the girls wanted to do it again….and again….and again. And then their friends wanted to join, and then we added another night of class, then a Songwriting class, and it just grew from there! It took about a year and a half before I was able to hang up my apron and retire from my life in the service industry, and I’ve never looked back.
Was a career in music always your dream? A career in music wasn’t just a dream, it’s all I’ve even assumed I would do. I’ve had other interests and skills but this has always been ‘it’. I grew up in a small town where the idea of making a living at it was far-fetched but in the back of my mind I knew there was a way to make it work, so between never minding being broke and potentially making an ass of myself and just walking through doors as they’ve opened, I’ve been able to make it happen.
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What have been some of the biggest risks and challenges you have faced in pursuing your passion? Risks? Being broke, feeling like I’m banging my head on a wall, wondering if I’m crazy, etc. The challenge is to wake up and just keep plugging away, because sometimes the gigs that really pay off are few and far between and I just have to keep my head down and have a little faith that I’m doing the right thing….and in then meantime work my ass off.
What advice would you offer to women who want to pursue their passion but are scared or unsure about how to go about it? Turn off your brain and go for it. Just just just go do it.
If you could give some advice to your 22 year- old self, what would it be? Haha! That girl was awesome…I’d tell her to keep it up. I wish 34 year-old Mandy were as brave and adventurous as she was! Honestly though, I’d like to hug her and tell her to be kinder…it’s maybe the one thing that’s more important that following her dreams.
What woman do you most admire? Anybody funny and brave. I’ve been reading a lot about Edna St. Vincent Millay and what a firecracker she was, especially for her time. I’d love to drink a beer with her but it’s also a lifelong dream to party with Sarah Silverman…I’m pretty sure she’d ask me to be her roommate and we’d be besties forever after that.
And, last but not least, why should a gal join Girl Guitar? Same reason we all play guitar…..to look cool ;). Really though, lots of adult women don’t do anything for themselves, don’t express themselves, and don’t make time for some good old-fashioned fun. There’s nothing like cutting loose with a bunch of other women facing fears, improving themselves, learning a new skill, and all the while slamming some wine and laughing their asses off.
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