by Michael Greenblatt
You’ve probably been serenaded by a flute or a violin as you walked by the Music Building and thought to yourself how fun it would be to learn how to play an instrument. Or you may already play an instrument and want to be able to utilize the practice rooms in the Music Building because there are no other places on campus to play.
Unfortunately, if you’re not a part of the School of Music, whether this means taking a music class or being involved in one of the concert bands, then you don’t have access to any of the rehearsal rooms or instruments in the building.
Many people who already do play an instrument, including myself, may not be skilled enough to join a concert band, or simply may not want to. Yet this doesn’t mean that they should not be able to have access to instruments, music lessons, or practice spaces to use for fun. As tuition-paying members of the campus community, all students should have access to instrument rentals, music lessons, and rehearsal spaces, whether they are involved in the School of Music or not.
There are many reasons why expanding access to the musical resources on campus would be beneficial for students. Playing musical instruments helps to relieve stress, exposes students to a whole new world of learning and talent beyond their academic studies and, put simply, is fun. Who knows, maybe if someone was given the chance to play a new instrument, they might even join a band or take a music class.
To be fair, any student can already take music lessons from the School of Music through its Community Music Program, which operates year-round. But hardly anyone is aware of this. I, for instance, am a second-semester senior and I only just found out about these music lessons because I was specifically looking for them.
This program should be publicized for the entire campus community, and not be treated as if it were a secret. I’m sure that many more students would take music lessons if they knew this was a possibility.
But it’s not enough just to offer music lessons—they should be made available for free or at a reduced price for every student. Other services that our school provides, such as use of the gym, the racquetball courts, and even tutoring appointments at the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching, are all free for students because the costs are built into our tuition, so why couldn’t music lessons be the same? If tuition can’t cover all of the costs, surely it can cover some of them so that these lessons can be discounted.
Instrument and rehearsal room rentals, whether for an hour or two, or for a week, could also be made available to more experienced musicians for the same reasons. Liability forms and key card access to equipment and rooms can alleviate concerns about damaged or stolen property.
Many music students may have a problem with these proposals, arguing that there will not be enough rooms or space available for them to rehearse in, which is a valid concern. However, I believe this could easily be resolved by designating specific times that the general student body could utilize rehearsal rooms so that they don’t interfere with the music students’ schedules.
Whether it intends to or not, the School of Music is limiting students’ opportunities on campus by not allowing everyone the chance to take music lessons, rent a rehearsal room, or even rent an instrument to play for fun. All of these resources should be made available for free, or at a discounted price, to all students, and these opportunities should not be a secret in the first place. I say that the University should give every student the chance to play music.