If you happen to walk past Ms. Mackenzie Day’s classroom during advisory clubs, don’t be alarmed if it sounds like a party inside. That would just be GMS’ Girls on the Mic club, where girls and gender-expansive students are invited to learn anything and everything about the world of sound.
“At my old school, we all learned music, but we didn’t have any choice about what kind of music. It was either classical or other really old styles,” said club member Sienna, grade 8. “It’s nice to have the freedom to learn different things and explore what I’m actually interested in.”
Girls on the Mic is a citywide organization devoted to connecting middle and high school students with training, technology and mentors from the wide world of media. Students not only learn to experiment with instruments and songwriting, but producing beats, podcasting, movie sound production, DJ-ing and more – activities that not only are great hobbies and STEAM skills to learn for their own sake, but that can lead to lucrative, rewarding careers in industries traditionally dominated by men. By exposing girls and nonbinary youth to the field early on and in a fun, exciting way, the hope is that they may one day feel empowered to continue exploring related industries in a more serious way, confident in the knowledge that they absolutely belong on the mic, behind the soundboard, or wherever they please.
“During Covid, there was literally nothing to do, but Girls on the Mic was something I could at home that was fun and it was something I could do with friends even when we were stuck at home,” said Kimberly, another 8th grade club member.
Students learn software like Garageband by playing round-robin games, taking turn adding musical elements to a track until they build a collaborative song, or use a program like Audacity to produce podcasts about a special interest they want to share with the world.
“We’re so fortunate to have these amazing teachers come for free and work with our students, who get to see people like them moving through these creative fields,” said Mackenzie, GMS science teacher and club faculty advisor. “I grew up playing music and it’s made a huge impact in my life. You discover parts of yourself, things you didn’t even know you wanted to do.”
Whether club members are looking to sound and music as a career, a hobby, or just exploring, all agreed Girls on the Mic had given them something valuable in any circumstance: confidence.
“I used to be quiet when it was time to share out because I was worried about people judging me, but when I’m here, I never feel like I’m being judged,” said Ahaj, grade 8. “And if I can share music in front of people I can share anything.”