MUSIC PETITION Music Students Petition For Space, Facilities By Amanda McGrath Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Musicians from the GU Orchestra protest the inadequate rehearsal and performance spaces by practicing in Leavey Center.

As part of a campaign by student music groups to raise awareness about the need for increased and improved music facilities at Georgetown, a quartet from the GU orchestra played Mozart in the main hallway of the Leavey building on Wednesday.

Georgetown’s band, orchestra, concert choir and several a cappella groups have organized a petition drive and letter writing campaign to show the university that music “is an important part of student life and that students are aware of the poor qualities of the facilities we do have,” Derrick Yee (SFS ’02), president of GU Concert Choir and the GU Chamber Singers said.

Their goal, he said, is to gather 2000 signatures and present them and the letters to University President John J. DeGioia, Vice President for Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez and University Provost Dorothy Brown. The packet would be accompanied by a formal request for increased rehearsal, performance and storage space.

Currently, neither the band nor the orchestra can fit in the New North Music Room and so must practice each week in Gaston Hall, said Yee.

“We have to drag the percussions, the chairs and the stands from New North to Gaston, which is a pain,” Greg Powell (MSB ’03) said. He added that there is not even enough room in Gaston Hall to fit the orchestra and the choir together for joint rehearsals. The smaller jazz band and pep band, as well as sectionals, can use the New North Music Room, but must share the space with the vast number of instruments also stored there, he said.

Small practice rooms are also in short supply, according to students. “There are five tiny practice rooms in dorms so they have no sound insulation and largely inaccessible to students,” Georgetown’s Caestecker Chair of Music Jose Bowen said. “If you want to find a decent piano just to play at Georgetown, you are going to have a very hard time.”

“You can hear people practicing from the other rooms, as well as airplanes and the AC,” Yee said.

“I don’t even know where some of them are,” Powell added.

Bowen has created a proposal to expand the music room in New North and use the nearby space as a separate area for storage. He has also suggested implementing practice modules – self-contained practice rooms – in the sub-basement.

“Eventually, what I’d like is a secure 24-hour, seven day a week practice area where students could practice any time in a safe, secure place and get their instruments at any time,” Powell said. “All of this next to a large enough flat space – the expanded New North music room – where music groups could rehearse.”

Plans are underway for the Ryan Administration Building to become a performing arts center in 2003. Those rooms, however, will not include facilities that are “designed or appropriate for music,” Yee said. “We want a firm commitment by the university to designate space for music and if we can, to be included in the capital campaign fund so we can raise the money to renovate these spaces.”

Improved music facilities would not only benefit Georgetown’s music groups, the proposal’s supporters said, but would enhance the overall quality of life on campus. “Unlike most other departments, music and theater space gets wide use across the

community,” Bowen said. “The vast majority of students who play in the band, want to take piano lessons or just practice the drums, will never be music majors.

Faculty and community members also engage in all of these activities . Most of the usage for this space will not be for traditional classes, but it will enable everyone on campus to have a place to play.”

Bowen added that he knew of several students who either gave up playing their instruments, never came or even left Georgetown because they couldn’t find a way to practice.

Georgetown also lacks a music department – the closest thing is the Department of Art, Music and Theater – and does not offer a major in music, he said. According to Bowen, the Dean and the Provost have been “very, very supportive” and they are working with him to expand the current music program and create a major in the field.

The Georgetown students’ current campaign hopes to highlight problems that have often been overlooked because of the high quality of the music groups’ performances. This, however, does not mean that it is easy or convenient to practice music at Georgetown, Yee said. “It’s only because we have so many excellent, excellent students who are willing to work very hard to overcome obstacles.”

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