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The Mass Media

University Hall’s music studios and practice rooms: open to all students?

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Dom Ferreira
A guitar leans against the side of a drum set within a garage studio. Photo by Dom Ferreira / Photography Editor

Two years ago during my freshman year here at UMass Boston, one of my good friends and I used to have conversations about wanting to start a band. We both had some experience playing guitar, while I had limited experience with bass, and not to mention his experience with piano helped a lot, too. We would enjoy going to Guitar Center to mess around with the array of guitars, basses, pianos and keyboards. Had I thought otherwise instead of thinking that I’d be a burden for playing it, I would’ve touched their drum set, too. Times were great, we were both gaining fundamental experience playing instruments while having loads of fun hanging out and developing our skills as players.

As the year went on, another friend of ours had mentioned that University Hall was the home to some music studios and practice rooms on the second floor, where he and his brother—another student—would play and have endless fun jamming with some of the instruments the rooms had to offer. Of course, this news got my friend and I thinking about how instead of taking the near hour long hike to Boylston Street, why not take advantage of the opportunity to be able to play right on campus day in and day out? Well, the answer to that question is that we weren’t able to, nor were we allowed to under our own authority; the school permits the studios only to people affiliated with the music program, and by the time my friends and I were arranging a time to play there with the help of our friend’s brother, the world was in the height of the pandemic and the university closed for the rest of the year.

When I finally got back last semester after taking a gap year, I decided to walk around the second floor of University Hall to test my luck and see if anything had changed since then, but to no avail. The room to enter the different music studios, along with the practice rooms consisting of pianos, microphones and percussion instruments, all read the same sign which explained that only members of the music program, and people taking authorized lessons, or MUSIC 185: Applied Music Lessons/Instruction, are allowed to access these facilities at their convenience—and rightfully so, because they are music majors. Though, the restriction of use to other students brings me to my main point, which is that I believe these rooms should be open to any and all students enrolled in this university.

There are many reasons why I think this should happen, or at least be considered. Granted, these facilities are used by different parts of the music program, whether it be the jazz ensemble, orchestra or people taking vocal lessons, and I still firmly believe that these students should have every right to override recreational use for the sake of continuing their education and practice. But, I also believe that there should be some leniency when it comes to other students wanting to use these facilities, too. There are a great number of music studios and practice rooms on the second floor of UHall, some of which are unused throughout the day on Tuesdays and Fridays, which gave me the idea that students should be allowed to have the incentive of being able to utilize these facilities to the greatest extent possible.

If these rooms were made accessible to all, I feel like a lot of students would be grateful for being able to have access to the music studios, a place where they would be able to not only develop and practice their skills or have fun playing with the different instruments provided by the school, but also enjoy having the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends as a result of sharing a common interest in playing music. If anything, I—along with what I assume to be many others if they could—would definitely take advantage of playing music in the studios. As for me, I’ve been playing guitar for over four years now and love playing the bass, and would be more than happy to be able to have access to the studios or practice rooms, so much so that I would even bring my own pedals from home for the sake of playing with them at school alongside some of the equipment and instruments provided. I’m sure that there are a large number of musicians or instrumentalists enrolled here at UMass Boston, some of which are more skillful and have more experience in playing these instruments compared to myself, and if I’m this passionate about wanting to open the studios recreationally, then I’m sure that many others would be, too. Not to mention, I would even be able to use other instruments like the keyboards, pianos or drums provided, all of which I do not have access to at home even though I have wanted to dabble in playing those instruments for quite some time. This occurrence brings up another point regarding the lack of resources at one’s home, too.

There are likely some students enrolled here that are unable to afford instruments, which means they cannot practice on their own time, no matter how passionate they may be to pick up an instrument and learn to play it, or how much time they would devote to learning and eventually mastering their playing. With the help of the music department and the university, a great deal of students—and who knows, maybe even faculty—would be able to show up and have time to learn, practice and converse with fellow students. Conversing with other students in the studios would ultimately provide us people to talk to, friends to make, and even insight from fellow students when it comes to getting better at playing.

Some people may be skeptical as to how opening the studios recreationally would work, which is why I think that an idea similar to how the Beacon Fitness Center operated their services last semester could be an idea in reference to making this plan come to fruition. Of course, as said before, members of the music program and music majors would always have a say in when they can use the facilities, and be able to practice more frequently than other students. Though, I think setting up scheduled sessions for students to play these instruments would provide a great hobby for some people who want to play music, or play away from home, with what may be better resources than the instruments and equipment they have available at their house. This scheduled system could also potentially take away any confusion regarding students taking up time provided for music majors, as even music majors could sign up for extra sessions on top of the practice sessions provided by their major.

Music is one of the most pleasurable aspects of life; whether it be playing, or listening to music, everybody from all cultures can agree that the utilization of it is important in everyday life. As a result, many people become passionate about learning music and would want to master a skill on any particular instrument. With the help of the university and the music department in particular, many students would be given an increased sense of motivation to pick up an instrument—that is, if they are able to have access to them at the palm of their hands through the use of their studios and practice rooms. If students were to gain access, they would not have to worry about spending money to develop a skill and hobby that they want to have for the rest of their lives. When it becomes time for them to graduate, they likely would want to buy their own instrument due to the skills they developed over time, and would be able progress from there, all because they were given the chance to practice and play at school.

About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Dom Ferreira, Photo Editor