Thornton students move into University Gateway

The Thornton School of Music has begun the final transition into its new facilities, beginning with the use of practice rooms in Gateway Apartments by music students.

Chopsticks · Ingyo Hwang, who is studying for a graduate certificate in music performance, practices in a new piano room in Gateway. Apartments. - Dan Doperalski | Daily Trojan

The old practice spaces, which held pianos and rooms for music students to rehearse, were in the Practice and Instructional Center located next to Cromwell Field.

PIC permanently closed Friday morning, and students began using the new Gateway practice rooms on Monday morning. The school moved all of the pianos and other instruments to Gateway over the weekend.

“When we had the opportunity to go to Gateway … this was wonderful,” said Robert Cutietta, dean of the Thornton School of Music. “Practice rooms are so critical for everything we do.”

The school is still moving into three new buildings, previously occupied by the School of Cinematic Arts, which are located next to the existing music school.

The buildings will house faculty offices, jazz studies rehearsal rooms and larger venues for orchestras and ensembles.

Cutietta said the construction, which is nearly done except for some practice rooms, will be finished by Thanksgiving, if not earlier.

“It’s been very disruptive this semester. Everybody has been extremely understanding,” he said. “I’d always said that fall semester it’s going to be a disaster, for some areas it certainly has been.”

Currently, the jazz studies department does not have anywhere to practice, but Cutietta said the school is finding space to accomodate them.

“Everyone knew it was coming, it’s like a construction zone that you know you’re going to be repairing a street. You’re going to be inconvenienced,” he said.

In total, the increased construction and moving of practice rooms will add about 40 percent more space to what the school had before, based on square footage, Cutietta said.

Thornton did not make a decision on where the practice space would be until last May, Cutietta said. Previously, the school scrambled to find space after the announcement that PIC would be torn down.

President C.L. Max Nikias, then the provost of the university, decided that the space in Gateway would go to the new rooms, which are bigger and use more technology.

Some policies for the new rooms have also changed. Security is tighter; students must have an I.D. and be a music major or minor to access the rooms. Access is now available 24/7, however, compared to last year’s limited hours.

“Prior to this, many of our practice rooms were being used by students who weren’t music majors, who weren’t music minors,” Cutietta said.

There will also be a DPS guard at all times for the back entrance to the Gateway practice rooms.

The technology in the practice rooms has been updated as well. Students can now record and transfer their rehearsals to a computer, or change the acoustics of a room to sound like an arena or cathedral.

Mitsuko Morikawa, a doctoral student studying music performance, said she was still adjusting to the new space.

“The acoustics are better, I like it because the ceilings are higher,” she said.

Jose Soto, a doctoral student studying musical performance, said the new rooms are a great improvement on those in PIC.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “This is the best facility in the country.”