VIEWPOINT Music Students Cursed With Inadequate Facilities By Derrick Yee

Since coming to Georgetown four years ago, I have never ceased to be amazed by the quantity and quality of musicians at this campus. From the Pep Band performances at basketball games to asterwork concerts in Gaston Hall, Chamber concerts to D.C. A Capella Fest, it is apparent our campus is not wanting for music talent. However, though this wealth of talent generally would be considered a blessing to most universities, at Georgetown, our tremendous supply of talent may be a curse.

How can this be? How can talent be a curse? Simple, Georgetown’s ample supply of musical talent, combined with the sheer determination of students dedicated to making music brings terrific results. Our performers have toured the country, performed with top musicians like jazz legend Dave Brubeck and ensured that each of our public functions are accompanied by the highest caliber of entertainment. Our results make it easy for the administration to believe that the facilities available to students for music, whether it be for rehearsal or performance, are adequate. However, if you take a short stroll over to the New North usic Room (essentially a glorified storage closet), you’ll see exactly how deficient the music facilities at Georgetown really are. Even better, head over to the New South practice rooms. Saying you’re lucky enough to snare a room for a few minutes, due to the lack of proper sound insulation, you’ll be cheerfully accompanied by the sound of passing airliners making their approach to Ronald Reagan National Airport.

As the president of the GU Concert Choir and the GU Chamber Singers, I am all too familiar with the trials and tribulations musicians face at this university. Since neither the band nor the orchestra can fit into the music room, rehearsals have to take place in Gaston Hall, requiring students to spend an extra 30 – 45 minutes moving instruments both before and after rehearsal. For the concert choir’s fall concert, because we are unable to fit onto the stage with the orchestra, we are forced to build a stage extension. Storage space for these groups is next to nothing, and our music library consists of some filing cabinets in the New North Music Room, which can’t be accessed if anyone else is in the room. Even worse, our three directors are forced to share an “office” that is actually a closet. What kind of working environment is that?

Now what of the new performing arts center? Won’t the new performing arts center resolve several of these problems? Once again, a simple answer: no. The performing arts center does not have space allocated for music groups and the stage, as currently planned. While it is excellent for the spoken word (i.e. plays), it is useless for music performances. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the theater department needs space too, and we’re not asking to take that space away from it. However, we, as music students, want the community and the administration to realize that we need facilities that are appropriate to the needs of music and conducive to the expansion of the music department. Improved facilities will allow students to spend more time making music and less time fighting with rolling tympani and balancing on ladders looking for music.

Finally, an increase in space allotted for music rehearsal, music performance and storage is something that all students can benefit from. Rehearsal rooms, which every student can use, allow students individual outlets to practice instruments and vent frustration. Increased rehearsal space will alleviate some of the demand currently placed on the few rehearsal facilities we have. Finally, more performance space means more performances, which contribute to the quality of life on this campus, not only for students, but for community members as well.

If you would like to help us with our plight, get in touch with the groups involved. Even better, let the president and the vice president for Student Affairs know how music has affected your experience at Georgetown. We hope that with a demonstration of the students’ awareness of the poor quality of music facilities at Georgetown, we will be able to resolve this situation in a meaningful and timely fashion. As for me, I’m off to rehearsal.

Derrick Yee is a senior in the School of Foreign Service, president of GU Concert Choir and GU Chamber Singers.

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