The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Audio: Chicago music school experiences boom in business

Joining+School+Of+Rock+Chicago+West+in+2018+as+a+guitarist%2C+Cir%C3%A9+Kee%2C+now+a+senior+and+a+brass+player%2C+watched+the+growth+of+the+school+first-hand.
Midway Staff
Joining School Of Rock Chicago West in 2018 as a guitarist, Ciré Kee, now a senior and a brass player, watched the growth of the school first-hand.

Intro Nat Sound: Sympathy For The Devil Rehearsal

VO #1: “It’s a busy Thursday afternoon at School of Rock Chicago West in the East Village neighborhood where children ages 4 to adults are taking lessons in a multitude of instruments.

VO #2 and #3 Opened in 2017 by Hyde Park native Charles Stevenson, SOR Chi west was a loving yet small community until a recent boom in business. School of Rock Chicago West now provides lessons to more than 200 students.

Ciré Kee: “I joined here in 7th grade, yeah”

This is Ciré Kee. She joined School Of Rock Chicago West as a guitarist in 2018 when the school was not as busy. Now, as a senior and a bass player, Ciré has watched the growth of the school first-hand.

Ciré: “It was a lot smaller than it is now. There was like a decent amount of people here. Um, but it was pretty small. It wasn’t ever really crowded. We had like, only one show going instead of like, three at a time.”

School of Rock Chicago West only has about ten designated classrooms, so the one hallway connecting the entrance to the student lounge is constantly bustling with students and teachers alike.

Ciré: “Even like the lesson rooms, not the I mean, like the practice rooms or shows or sometimes filled with like lessons.”

On top of offering individual lessons, School Of Rock Chicago West offers programs for kids to practice in groups. Rock 101 is for beginners to learn how to play in group settings, and upon graduating the children are eligible to join one of the school’s “Performance Bands.” Students in these programs rehearse once a week for about four months before putting on a large final show at venues around Chicago’s West Side. 

Abby: “I’m proud of a lot of the school,” When you walk into School Of Rock Chicago West, the first face you see is Abby Chafe’s, the School of Rock general manager. This is her now.

 “..But in the past year, the one thing that I’m most proud of, is the fact that we have created an environment that feels like a family that feels really respectful.”

The moment you enter the building, you can see how close all of the faculty and students are. Everyone is smiling, chatting, the thrum of drums and bang of piano keys reverberate around the poster-decorated walls as kids cycle in and out the door. Abby contributes the new boom in the school’s popularity to its patrons 

Abby: “Our student body talks about it all the time. And we have spread popularity simply by word of mouth. We actually don’t do any advertising. Corporate does advertising but School of Rock Chicago West does not put up any ads. I work on social media, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, all those things. But our popularity simply grows by word of mouth because people talk about us to their family and their friends.”

School Of Rock Chicago West may be expanding, but the camaraderie is guaranteed to stay the same.

Abby: “What’s really important to me is the fact that the community aspect stays the same regardless of if our community is growing. The fact that you guys feel comfortable here and the fact that I love all of you so much has to stay the same regardless of how big we are.”

outro nat sound: Fantasy Rehearsal

Reporting from Chicago’s East Village neighborhood, this is Ari Novak for the U-High Midway.

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About the Contributor
Ari Novak
Ari Novak, Reporter
Ari Novak is a member of the Class of 2027 and serves as a reporter. She began writing for the Midway in the 2023-24 school year as a ninth grader. Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing piano, listening to music and Duolingo. Awards: 2024 Illinois Journalism Education Association: First place, audio journalism, Audio: Chicago music school experiences boom in business

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