The Music Room brings community to Vanderbilt student musicians

Run by Christiana Gatbunton and Camren Hall, The Music Room at Vanderbilt University helps connect independent Vanderbilt musicians to other students as well as the wider Nashville area

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The Music Room hopes to educate and connect musical talent at Vandy. Screenshot from @themusicroom.vu Instagram page (Hustler Staff/Eva Pace)

Sophie Edelman, Staff Writer

Nicknamed “music city,” Nashville is known for its popular music scene. Take a walk downtown, and you will hear music stream from every building and see artists with guitars slung over their shoulders, ready to perform at a moment’s notice. There are many opportunities for independent artists to take the stage whether it be their first or 100th time performing. 

While Vanderbilt’s campus sits in the heart of this musical hub, sophomores Christiana Gatbunton and Camren Hall felt that the university didn’t reflect the expansiveness of the city’s music scene, so in summer 2020 they founded The Music Room. 

I expected that the culture at Vanderbilt would be very centered around music because we’re in Music City, but there was no community to unite the very talented musicians, singers and songwriters that go here,” Gabunton said. “We started The Music Room to serve as this space for music creators and music lovers to meet and support each other, and or even just to jam out together.”

The collective started as an Instagram page and grew followers through sharing the page on their personal profiles and stories. Today, the community consists of about 115 people and has a 12 person executive board, with chairs involved in Blair events, the wider Nashville community and the CURB scholars program. 

According to Gatbunton, the group includes but is not limited to DJs, R&B producers, country singer-songwriters, Jazz singer songwriters, acapella group members and people who don’t even make music but are interested in hearing live music or being involved in the music industry. 

The Music Room’s Linktree also has collaboration forums where local producers, both on and off campus, can easily find vocalists, rappers and other musicians to work with, Gatbunton said. The Music Room also provides valuable resources to support student involvement in pre-existing and upcoming music related ventures on campus. The collective also promotes students who make their own music by posting artist features and playlists with original songs on the group’s Spotify, per Gatbunton. 

The collective has followed through on their mission of enhancing Vanderbilt’s independent musician scene in multiple ways. In addition to increasing artist exposure, The Music Room has promoted relationship building in adherence with COVID-19 safety measures, which is not an easy feat. 

“Last semester, we sent a message in our GroupMe for a jam session on Peabody Lawn and 40 people came,” Gabunton said. “We split up into four groups and played our guitars in [Vanderbilt COVID-19 compliant] circles. It was great because a lot of people met other musicians that they didn’t know before so they were able to collaborate with them in the future for other songs and make new friends.” 

The collective recognizes the need for community now more than ever and has made additional efforts to promote in-person support for members. Last semester, members were encouraged to attend fellow musicians’ performances at bars and parks if they were comfortable, Gatbunton said. 

“There are people who are seasoned performers who like performing live, but they haven’t had the opportunity to because of COVID, so they use The Music Room as an outlet,” Gatbunton said. “Then, there are those that are starting out and want to test if they like performing so it’s nice for them to have a supportive group in the crowd.” 

The collective’s mission of involving the greater Nashville music scene with Vanderbilt initiatives has proven successful thus far as well. According to Gatbunton, artists from the greater Nashville area have shown interest in getting involved, broadening the group’s network. 

This semester, the executive board is working on a traveling concert series called “Outside the Room.”

“It’s gonna be a concert series where we travel to different people’s off-campus locations and perform a socially distanced pop-up concert for them,” Gatbunton said. 

The first concert of the series will be held March 20 from 1-5 p.m. with performances from a band and two solo artists.