Music Building overcrowded, students fight for practice time
Sarah Bauer, a music performance junior, practices one to three hours a day on either her voice or the piano, but sometimes has to wait up to half an hour for a practice room at the Music Building.
“You basically have to camp out in front of the door because there are no sign-up sheets,” she said.
“It makes it pretty frustrating sometimes.”
The problem is that the college’s student body has expanded over the years, but the facility hasn’t gotten any bigger, Bauer said.
Although Bauer was going to buy a keyboard after this year, she bought one earlier than she planned, at the beginning of fall semester, so she could practice at home.
“We are finding creative ways to get around practicing at the Music Building,” Bauer said.
Jim Forger, the College of Music’s dean, said in a September interview that because of the hard economic climate in Michigan it will be difficult to get a new facility in the short term.
“With time, we will be successful in achieving that goal because we desperately need the facilities, and the central administration has been very supportive of that goal and prioritized it highly,” Forger said.
Forger couldn’t be reached for further comment earlier this week.
There are 650 music majors, including both undergraduates and graduates. Kevin Sedatole, the director of bands, said the building should be holding half that amount.
“Every classroom is in constant use and there isn’t any room for additional classes,” he said.
“We are busting at the seams and it will start affecting us with students not wanting to come to the school because of an inadequate facility.”
There is no time for maintenance or repairs, and there is one true rehearsal area for the college, Sedatole said.
Many classrooms are overcrowded and a typical music history class that is supposed to hold about 20 students is carrying about 35, he said.
The Music Building is located on West Circle Drive, across the street from IM Sports-Circle.
Carrie Bates, a second-year doctoral music performance student, said because of the packed quarters if one person gets a cold, the whole class will — it’s a running joke in the class.
“They don’t get the same experience as they would in a smaller class,” Sedatole said. “It impacts the way a professor has to teach the class.”
Bauer said she doesn’t think the overcrowding hinders her education, but there has been a situation in her opera class where the professor wants students to be able to watch a couple of different operas and can’t find a room to view them.
Jack Budrow, a professor of music and chairman of the string area, said MSU has one of the best music schools in the country, but the building does not reflect its prestige.
“We have probably 24 to 26 double bass players in a class and for us it is a nightmare in terms of storage and practice space,” he said.
For students to properly prepare for their lessons each week, they need to practice about 18 hours a week, Budrow said.
“The practice rooms are a first come, first serve basis and it’s tough on the kids because they are not always available,” he said. “There are way more students than we have practice rooms.”