The Bands of CAPE Music Club at North-Grand High School: The Midnight Sweaters and IceBreakerz

 In The CAPE Blog

CAPE takes pride in supporting teaching artists, teachers, and students through long-term partnerships. One project that has thrived over time is the Music Club, led by teaching artist Nick Meryhew in collaboration with World Studies and AP Human Geography teacher Michelle Livas and music teacher Fabian Lopez at North-Grand High School. Together, they have nurtured the formation and growth of two student bands: IceBreakerz and The Midnight Sweaters, both of which have had a successful year.

The Midnight Sweaters

The Midnight Sweaters has performed not only at North-Grand, but also at Morrill Elementary, Hedges Elementary, Liberating Spaces through Neighborhood Action (LNSA Palenque), the Kenneth Young Center, and even during the Chicago Wolves game at the Allstate Arena, and of course, at CAPE! Most recently they performed at the RE·VER·BER·ATE CPS arts festival, and soon they will play at Music Will’s, “Jam Fest,” and North-Grand’s very own Owlapalooza.

The band comprises a rotating lineup of vocalists, keyboardists, drummers/percussionists, bassists, and guitar players. It is led by a team of student managers and coordinators who bring professionalism and cohesion to the band’s identity.

This year, the club has been exploring the big idea of Sounding Sociality by inquiring “How does performing music in our communities affect our position within those communities? How can we position our music making as a cultural and social asset for our communities?” In the words of band manager Frida Orihuela, “I feel like performing music helps us value and appreciate what our community provides. It makes us come together as musicians and provide what we can to our community.”

When asked about their teaching dynamic, Nick and Mr. Lopez explained: “Because we both have our own music pedagogical backgrounds and ideas, it’s imperative for us to keep open lines of communication and hold mutual respect. We see it as an asset for our students to see different approaches to music making and music education, as these divergences point to the infinitude of musical expressions and approaches.”

This summer, CAPE will sponsor a trip for students to attend a concert by Max Diaz and Violent Vira, artists whose songs they have covered and who are an inspiration for them in writing their own songs.


IceBreakerz is a band that is part of the Music Club led by Nick in partnership with World Studies and AP Human Geography teacher Michelle Livas.

Throughout this year, the club has delved into the concept of Belonging in Difference by exploring questions such as “How do we maintain our individuality within a community? How can we work together to achieve personal and collective objectives? How does music foster a sense of community?”

Nick and Ms. Livas characterize the students’ activities as journeys of self-discovery and methods of sharing their identities with the group. Through fostering self-discipline and teamwork, they aim to help students comprehend, regulate and express their emotions. This is exemplified through both original compositions performed by the band and renditions of their favorite songs.

Like The Midnight Sweaters, IceBreakerz have had a successful year of performances including at North Grand High School’s STEAMfest, Report Card Pick Up Day, Winter and Spring Band concerts, as well as off campus at Hedges Elementary and during the Young Audiences National Conference at CAPE!

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