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College of Music plans to renovate facilities to improve time and space constraints

College of Music plans to renovate facilities to improve time and space constraints

College of Music plans to renovate facilities to improve time and space constraints
August 30
16:54 2019

The UNT College of Music plans to renovate, demolish and rebuild several facilities over the coming years in an effort to solve the problems caused by the lack of rehearsal and performance spaces. 

John Richmond, the dean of the College of Music, said after the University of North Texas System conducted a campus planning study in 2013, it was decided that four of the seven primary facilities would be demolished and replaced.

“The Annex, two practice room buildings and Bain Hall are all slated for demolition,” Richmond said. “So there is no plan to make those better. There is a plan to replace them with better.”

All 1,600 music majors, as well as faculty, staff and some non-music majors, have a need for adequate spaces on campus.

“The university has known for a long time that our growing program is making use of every nook and cranny that we have and we’re grateful for it,” Richmond said. “But they know it’s not sufficient.”

Voice concentration sophomore Brooke Waters said she has been impacted by the limited space.

I go practice in weird places like my laundry room or hallways, or empty classrooms that I’m not really supposed to be in,” Waters said. “I’ve never gotten in trouble for it, but I am practicing in a public place so there are people who walk in and out and I always have to stop and pause.”

The lack of available space on campus can lead to music students hosting their required recitals in third-party buildings.

We sometimes resort to off-campus venues, which can be a deterrent to potential audience members,” Music education senior Melinda Coleman said. “There are usually a couple of recitals per semester that wind up being held in churches off campus.”

When it came time for Coleman to schedule rehearsals for her recital, 9 p.m. was the only time slot available in the Recital Hall. She said this is not uncommon, and can even be considered on the early side due to the constraints.

“The dress rehearsal has to be scheduled around the availability of the student, the student’s primary professor and an accompanist,” Coleman said. “With the performance halls’ limited availability, this necessitates early morning or late night scheduling. I’m lucky that my clarinet professor and my accompanist were very understanding, but the timing could be an undue burden for faculty who live further from campus.”

With seven different buildings on campus used to serve the needs of the College of Music, the stress for space is not caused by having too few rooms, but instead is caused by buildings that were not designed to support music rehearsals and performances, such as the Music Annex buildings that originally served as an elementary school. 

“We have our consultants who we’ve hired to look at all this tell us that we have the right number of [facilities], but they are all not well designed for the purpose they’re now trying to serve,” Richmond said. “They’re not tall enough. They’re not large enough to be healthy, and the building was never designed to be soundproof room to room, or floor to floor. So we have plenty of them, but they don’t serve their purpose very well.”

Some of the plans include major renovations to existing facilities, including current changes to the Choral room and Music Courtyard. The choir room is shut down for the fall, and will reopen during the spring semester.

“That space will be a much improved instructional space with permanent risers,” Richmond said. “But also then in the evening, we can make the whiteboards and the display screens go away and turn it into a recital space as well. So we have a hundred seats for people to come for student recitals and small guest artists recitals. It will be a scheduled performance space as well as a rehearsal space.”

Richmond said UNT has been very responsive and understanding towards the needs of the College of Music.

“We are all kinds of grateful for the support we’ve received,” Richmond said. “We know that we still have a good path to follow and we’re going to try to continue to keep the heat on and compete for those resources the best we can, but we’re just so profoundly grateful for the support that university has provided to us.”

Featured ImageThe Music Annex offers UNT College of Music students several rehearsal spaces and an instrument repair shop. The Music Annex is currently located along West Highland Street across the street from Crumley Hall. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

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Kiara St. Clair

Kiara St. Clair

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