HistoryIn 2002, two music education majors (Elizabeth Bennett and Jamie Howe) were approached by some faculty with the proposal of restarting Northwestern's chapter of MENC. The first year they had monthly meetings with faculty speakers and pizza as they tried to get the word out about MENC. The second year they decided that it didn't make sense to limit participation in the organization with just music education majors, or even music majors for that matter. They wanted to expand campus-wide.
There were a few obvious problems they wanted to work to alleviate and holes they wanted to fill:
- there were tons of musicians and music lovers at NU, but they weren't connected and didn't have many opportunities to continue with their music if they weren't music majors
- there were tons of volunteer opportunities at NU, but none that had to do with music
- there was a strange wall between the NU campus and the greater Evanston/Chicago community
- there was sadly dwindling audiences at the music school's concerts
- there were lots of speakers and neat events happening on campus, but not many that were music related
Elizabeth and Jamie's vision was to get music majors out of the practice room and into the community, bring neat music things going on in the community onto campus, and provide ways for musicians and music lovers to get to know each other and have opportunities for unique learning experiences.
They decided to change their name to the Music Learning Community - something more inclusive and welcoming. They also decided to make it an umbrella organization and add chapters of ACDA and ASTA. The second year they were growing, and when Anne Carper approached them about helping out with her fabulous private lesson idea, they jumped on it. Although the organization was growing, it didn't have any funds. Elizabeth practically singlehandedly put together a huge benefit concert with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer that almost sold out Cahn Auditorium! This event really began to get MLC's name out there and provided MLC with some money to get the then NUSAMS (NU/St. Andrews Music School -- now called UpBeat) program off and running.
The third year they were recognized by ASG, and with a new exec board structure and fabulously passionate leaders, MLC just kept growing. New outreach sites including CityBeat and Mather Pavilion started that year while UpBeat expanded its services at St. Andrews. These new programs gave more musicians a chance to get involved in MLC. At the end of this year of service, MLCers celebrated with an UpBeat recital which went rather well.
This year MLC took some major steps towards spreading their musical love. In the fall they established another site that helps an MLC alumnus and music teacher at West Park Academy, and they put together a huge program called Share the Music: Unite for Youth. They brought over 120 kids from Chicagoland high schools and middle schools to Northwestern for a fun-filled day of music workshops. At the end of the day, the kids got to attend a concert put on by Northwestern's best a capella groups. The proceeds from this concert were given to Merit School of Music which is now another volunteer site. As if that wasn't enough, MLC is planning on doing a pen pal project in the Spring. Nothing can stop this amazing group from growing!