Music: how does it affect North’s students?

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Photo by Grace Ainger

Grace Ainger, Staff Writer

The month of December brings so much: the holidays, cookies & candy, and most recently, Spotify Wrapped. The end of the year means we get to discover how many minutes we listened and cried to Olivia Rodrigo or rocked out in the car to Dua Lipa. Spotify Wrapped both teaches you about your own music tastes and styles of the year, but also your friends and family’s. 

Although everyone’s lives, experiences and cultures are different, the world unites when it comes to experiencing music. Whether you’re jamming out to “Mamma Mia” by ABBA or attempting to play “Flight of the Bumblebees” at max tempo, music is a connection that everyone can feel one way or another. 

How do Naperville North students specifically connect to music? In a survey of 134 music students at North, 85% said that music has had a positive impact on their life. Sophomore flute player Abbie Martinson discussed her relationship with music.

“It gives me a creative outlet, it’s my art… It’s something I can work at and constantly improve at,” Martinson said.

The pandemic negatively impacted music students in a unique way. Of the music students surveyed, 95% said that music reduces their stress levels– but the pandemic took away the ability for students to make music together. Music classes had to be conducted online, meaning playing and singing was done alone. Jeffery Sturgeon, a music teacher and orchestra director at North, explained how coming back to school has changed that. 

“Coming together in music classes has been a good outlet for students. It helped students emotionally support themselves through the COVID pandemic. When we came back… and started playing together again, I feel that students really woke up and starting coming back out of their shells and [felt] like they were living again,” Sturgeon said.

Naperville North’s music program in particular has impacted students’ relationships with others. Teachers, students, family and friends grow and bond through music. It supports and fosters the confidence of students. Senior orchestra and jazz band player Ethan Davila elaborated on how he was supported by North’s music teachers. 

“North’s program has been extremely beneficial. Mr. Hickman,[the former band director], let me into Jazz Band as a freshman. It gave me a confidence boost and helped me get serious [about music]. [Mr. Sturgeon], lets me voice my opinions on how we are [playing] things in songs such as dynamics, expressionism, articulation etc. He gives me a voice,” Davila said. 

The music program also allows opportunities for students in middle school music programs to get accustomed to North. Programs such as middle school night for Marching Huskies gives middle schoolers an opportunity to perform with the Huskies for a football game. These combined performances enhance relationships and connections. 

“I remember being in middle school and being super excited [to play] with North’s band and it’s a great way to meet people and connect with the school,” Martinson said.

The musical extracurricular activities also allow students to discover new outlets for expression. Jessica Martinson, a junior involved in curricular choir, elaborated on how it encouraged her to participate in the school’s productions, like A Simpler Time, Kodachrome and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

“The people involved in North’s music program are really nice and open minded. It led me to do some of the plays,” Jessica Martinson said.

Not only does music help the many students involved in music-centered programs at North, but it also benefits the general student body. Out of 45 Naperville North students surveyed, 91% said music has had a positive impact on their life. Junior Lilly Hanslik talked about her favorite way to connect with music.  

 “Going to concerts is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve met some of my closest friends at concerts. Going with my family has made us closer because it’s something we bond over,” Hanslik said. 

Music classes and activities have helped students build relationships with others, decrease stress levels and deal with the isolation from the pandemic. So how can students not involved with music feel those same impacts?

“Just listen. Music is about expressionism and every piece was written with a purpose. Listening to anything and everything is the best way to find out more about the world and emotions,” Davila said.