We Got the Beat: Senn Music Journal Hits a High Note


By Isabella Chamberland (Senn Senior)

I remember the day that CPS announced its final plan for the school year; the day felt heavy, like every student in CPS was silently waiting for maybe a chance to feel some form of unity in wake of the most unprecedented times.  

I reflected on the easy days of walking down my high school’s hallways, hearing the noise leak from the music rooms while students from all disciplines walked past each other. Even this small sampling of music and human interaction made the Senn Arts Students feel connected to the IB and Design Students. 

I began to wonder if any extracurricular activities could bring music to the Senn community. My explorations led me to discover that no such extracurricular or club existed, and this bothered me. If there was no club or program to unite the student body, especially during a pandemic, how could my school as a whole feel like a community?

The thought of zero crossover between these disciplines looped in my head until an idea sparked.

“I want to start a magazine at Senn!”, I said to my best friend. She was audibly excited at the idea, and expressed great interest in joining. This then birthed the Senn Music Journal: a collaborative Journalism Club founded by me and supported by students across all disciplines and grade levels.

Once the idea of starting my own club and publication at Senn was solidified, I had to devise a plan to include people of all backgrounds, music preferences, and ages in order to diversify our magazine. One aspect of being a part of Generation Z is that we are more technologically skilled than most think. I used my technological skills and social media platform to create and promote an application. After a few days, I saw the application results and saw that people who I never thought would be interested had signed up.  

I created this platform, sent out applications, and reviewed applicants, but how would I proceed with managing and writing the first ever music publication with no prior experience? I had to learn how to adapt. Learning to adapt to the new normal of every aspect of everyday life being virtual. How to run and manage my own club was a different kind of learning than the kind I’d done during school. Instead of using my free time to go on social media or hang out with friends, I’d watch YouTube videos on how to format magazines and reach out to my other friends who lead their own clubs.  

The first meeting we ever had felt like I was placed exactly in my element. Initially, I was terrified of this intense leadership position, but now I feel like I can accomplish anything with this powerful opportunity.  

Our first edition was a complete success with a variety of different topics and writing formats. Everything from an interview with a local musician (with Ameera Sierra), to a “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” by The Smashing Pumpkins Review (Done by Geatanoe V. Rizzo), to an analytical essay about Noname’s Album “Telefone” (Weston Christmas), to a customized playlist, to a Just For Fun Section with a crossword puzzle!  The general theme for the first edition was Chicago Locals.  We utilized this theme by reviewing and analyzing musicians from Chicago and music about Chicago.  This theme allowed us to begin our Senn Music Journal by highlighting what we know best: our city. 

The ability to lead this project with an adaptable approach of exploring, learning, and working together couldn’t have happened without the great team of writers and artists that contributed to fist edition and our future editions.

The intent to incorporate arts into the entire Senn community is prevalent among our writers and illustrators.

For example, Senn IB Junior Sophia Bigg stated that “I joined this journal as a chance to exercise my creativity in a way I’ve never tried before, as well as to learn more about music.”  Sophia is an illustrator in charge of creating doodles and small drawings to add a multi-artistic spin to the music dominated magazine. Her artwork helps not only incorporate her into an otherwise unknown music scene, but also allows the magazine to appeal to those interested or invested in visual arts. 

Another example of artistic crossover is Tyshaun Zollicoffer, a Senior in the visual arts program who initially joined “to see collaboration across all the programs here at Senn.”  However, although Tyshaun is starting off as an artist, he said he “will attempt to write something soon.”  The intent and mission of the journal is prevalent even among our members.

Although The Senn Music Journal has only released one issue so far, we have been met with an immense amount of appreciation. We already have over 50 emails on our mailing list and we are currently working on our newest way to showcase our writing: a website!  We hope to continue to adapt and learn as the year goes on to continue to showcase music and make it accessible for multiple audiences.

If you’d like to be added to the mailing list to receive a PDF of our monthly issues, click here: https://forms.gle/UJBmYcvbMoc1Q5XP9

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