Center of the Arts needs a sound check

UW-Whitewater is a school that prides itself on providing the most state of the art facilities and resources for their students to work efficiently in preparing for their future careers. This claim is especially prevalent in the College of Arts and Communications. While it is true that there are many wonderful aspects about the Center of the Arts, such as: a beautiful atrium, student ran galleries, and an ample recital hall, there is one component of the CA that sticks out as intensely insufficient. This would be the practice pods.

The practice pods in the CA are located in the basement in a hallway that lies adjacent to all of the traditional classrooms. These practice pods have always been an issue for music majors and minors, as they are highly inadequate both spatially and sonically. A set of practice pods should be a place that mimics a lower scale environment that a musician would perform in.

For those unfamiliar with music, the acoustics of the environment which you play or sing in have a profound effect on the sound that is produced, and it is the musician’s responsibility to adjust in whatever way possible. The most preferred performance area is a wide open space where the sound can carry and the sound waves will travel outward into the room. The Whitewater practice pods are the antithesis of this. These pods are ridiculously small and cramped. It is nearly impossible to practice adequately because the sound is constantly bouncing off of the walls back at the player, which in turn influences the tone of the musician’s sound.

Along with being subpar in acoustics, the practice pods are impossible to play in due to the fact that the walls are incredibly thin and the University’s attempt at sound proofing (which we had to beg them for and finally got last year) is lazy at best. If you walk through the pod hallway and someone is practicing, you will know, and if two people are practicing, wish them luck. The sound proofing in these pods are so bad that someone could be in the first pod group and someone else could be three pods down and you would still be able to hear them. This should go without saying, but it is immensely difficult to focus on your own practicing when you can hear three other people practicing alongside you.

The music department has been advocating for new practice pods for several years now. We have reached out to many campus organizations to help support this, including the Student Government, and so far no change has been made. According to the Administrative Affairs web page, their mission is to “Provide professional services that enable university leadership”. If this is true, then why are so many music students left to try and make the best out of such subpar practice facilities?

– Liz Task

UW-Whitewater student