When administrators announced in November that the Von KleinSmid Library would remain a library and not be converted into music practice rooms as planned, most students celebrated.
But music students who had been eager to move into the new location were disappointed and, three months later, still do not know where they will be practicing come fall.
“We were all excited to get a new building,” said Daniel Weidlein, a sophomore majoring in jazz studies. “It seems like the entire music school kind of gets pushed off to the side when anyone wants something.”
The Thornton School of Music’s practice facility, the Music Practice and Instructional Center, is slated for demolition. The school had planned to move the practice rooms to the VKC facility, but administrators revoked the decision within a week of the announcement after staff and students petitioned to save the library.
Since then, the school has been searching for another option but with little success. According to Thornton Dean Robert Cutietta, several locations have been suggested, but all of the ideas have been vetoed because of physical constraints.
“Everything has to be soundproof, so finding places is difficult,” Cutietta said. “That’s why VKC was one of the first places to look at because it’s in the basement.”
PIC, which is located between Cromwell Field and the Intramural Sports Field, currently houses Thornton’s music practice rooms in addition to the jazz studies program, Thornton student advisement offices, a music computer lab and several other instrument labs.
Music students are still using the facility while the university searches for a new space, but many say the space is cramped and the number of practice rooms is insufficient.
“There’s too many music students for the number of practice rooms,” said Amber Navran, a sophomore majoring in jazz studies. “When it’s sunny, we can practice outside, but for piano majors what are you supposed to do?”
Robert Cooper, vice provost for planning and budget, said the university is working with Thornton to resolve the problem.
“We’re looking at options, and we’re trying to figure out the best solution for the school,” Cooper said.
Like many universities, the campus is in a “space crunch,” Cooper said, and with the huge campus center project in the middle of the university, “it’s a really complicated issue.”
Cutietta has big dreams for the music school but said at this point he simply wants to find a solution.
“I’d love to tear down all the music buildings and build an entire new music complex,” Cutietta said. “That’s a dream.”
Students are also dreaming of new facilities with more practice rooms, newer technology and more collaborative working spaces.
“I hope we move to a location that is convenient for all of the students, said Marcus Petitt, a freshman majoring in music industry.
Ideally, Petitt said, the move would also involve an upgrade in technology and resources.
The university hopes to have a decision about where they will move the music practice rooms by the end of March. Cooper said it is more likely they will move into a renovated space than into a brand new building.
Right now, though, the situation is changing constantly and students have expressed some frustration.
“It hasn’t been handled well because nobody knows what’s going on,” Weidlein said.
Cutietta said he will tell students as soon as any progress has been made, but currently the situation is too unstable.
“This has literally changed by the hour this whole semester,” Cutietta said. “As soon as we have something concrete, I’ll be sure to tell them.”
“I’d like to have this resolved, I’d like to know what’s going to happen,” he added.
The school has sent out e-mails to update students about all major decisions, but students are unsure about the progress of the situation.
One music student said he heard that PIC would become a welcome center for the football team. Another said he heard that PIC would be torn down and the Intramural Field would be extended.
Cutietta thinks two things are driving the rumors.
“The building we’re in is old and needs some major work,” Cutietta said. “And the university has wanted for a long time to do something with that area for athletics.”
Students said they believe the plan to convert PIC into an athletic building makes sense because of its location. But without the building, the students have no other space to practice their music.
“Just like scientists need laboratories, we as musicians need spaces to practice our music,” Petitt said.
Though students are worried about the future of their practice facilities, Cutietta emphasized that they will never be left without facilities.
“I wouldn’t be sleeping at night,” Cutietta said. “There is a solution, but we just have to find it.”