Walk to my Tune: Hallway Music at NCP
by S. Aleksander Black
Northside’s hallway music sounds through the halls during every passing period, and subtly integrates itself into the environment of each and every student. The music plays over the loudspeakers and ranges from hip-hop to the Chicago Cubs’ anthem, with a wide variety of tunes used throughout the year.
The hallway music has been playing ever since Northside College Preparatory High School was founded in 1999. The school’s founding principal, Dr. James Lalley, wanted to have a unique way of signifying passing periods. After all, in the words of Northside’s orchestra director Mr. Leo Park, Fine Arts department, “Why a drab bell or buzzer, when music can permeate the classrooms and hallways instead?” The music definitely brings upon a unique feel. “I like the concept of having hallway music instead of the conventional bell because it is a definitely more creative and smoother transition,” says sophomore Amy Pang, Adv. 009.
Originally, the hallway music was played using CDs, but in 2011, NCP chose to swap to a digital music platform: Spotify. They subscribed and used the well-known music service for the next five years. However, in 2016, Google Music was chosen to be the school’s new songs resource. Google Play has some advantages over other music apps--most notably its personalization. The service can predict music choices based on patterns and habits, and also store up to 50,000 songs for free in the cloud.
Music is attributed to relieving anxiety and increasing motivation and happiness. According to a study cited by the Harvard Health Publishing article titled “Music and Health,” cataract patients who listened to music while receiving surgical operations had lower blood pressure and felt more calm during the operation. Other studies found similar results; the patients listening to music consistently had lower stress levels. The Harvard Health article also says that “an authoritative review of research performed between 1994 and 1999 reported that in four trials, music therapy reduced symptoms of depression, while a fifth study found no benefit.” These benefits are noticeable to the students and teachers here at NCP as well. “I feel that it makes the ambience of the school much more soothing than before,” says Klever Inga, Adv. 910. “It’s a nice touch and a good replacement for the school bell.”
Despite all the benefits, music is not always a bed of roses. Sometimes the music could be considered disruptive or irritating, due to the repetitive nature and certain song choices. Tania Haque, Adv. 906, says that she does not love the music, because of the music’s often repetitive nature. “It drives me crazy,” Haque said, “but the actual music choices are pretty inoffensive.” This may be caused by extremely limited music cycling, especially during the times such as the week of Cubby Walk, when Cubs-related songs are played on repeat. “I wish there was less annoying music containing vocals and less music that insinuates a joke,” said Inga. The song choices and repetition tend to be a chief cause of the “music disappointment” that sometimes occurs.
So what kind of music do people want to hear? “I wish more hip hop could be played, but much of it is not appropriate for the ‘airwaves,’” said Mr. Park. Haque agreed, saying that hip-hop was definitely something she wanted to hear more of at Northside. The modern genre would ideally provide some more variety to the already vast group of songs played throughout the year.
Northside’s hallway music is an indispensable part of the school’s culture, and one dear to the students and teachers. Just the brief time of passing periods each day when students hear the songs can greatly impact a student’s daily life. The reasons for having hallway music are best summarized by words from a short essay Mr. Park wrote in response to the question “Why music?”; a question posed by the Illinois Music Education Association. “Why music? Because for thousands of years, peoples and cultures from every corner of our world have used music to exalt, inspire, console, empower, imagine, communicate, mourn, worship, celebrate, entertain, rejuvenate, express, invigorate, create, galvanize, meditate, educate, and heal.” In the same way the world has benefitted from the power of music, so has Northside.
If you want to suggest songs for during passing periods, you can do so using the link HERE. The song selections are reviewed, and potentially are added into the music you hear each day.