The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Music Dept. Enforces Practice Room for Non-Majors

4 min read


Recreational musicians planning to spend time playing in Pollard Hall are being greeted with warnings that were hung on practice-room doors last semester.  The message? Do not enter.

The policy has always been that the 11 practice rooms, each with a piano, are only open to music majors and students enrolled in private lessons or performance classes, according to David Long, chair of the department of music.

The signs were hung last semester to make the policy more clear, according to sophomore Kelsey Mayo, a music major.

“We [music majors] spend hours in Pollard, and it is nice to have good, working pianos,” Mayo said. “Less experienced students might bang on the keys and cause the pianos to need tuning.”

According to Long, the music department has to maintain these pianos, which can cost about $12,000 for a replacement.

“I enjoy art, but that does not mean I can go into the art studios and use the supplies,” Mayo said.

Students outside the department may not be as careful and could spill liquids or break these pianos that students in the department need.
“I understand that they need boundaries to keep equipment in good condition, but it is hard when you have an interest in music, but cannot take a class,” sophomore Virginia Osella said.  She is not a music major, but did take classes in the music department last year.
Students like Osella find that pianos in the dorms are inadequate because they are often out of tune, and the quiet hours in dorms restrict playing times.

The practice rooms are for music students to get their homework assignments done, according to Long.   On occasion, special exceptions are made to students involved in other courses that require practice rooms.

For sophomore James Waalkes, the piano rooms are vital to recording piano and guitar, despite not being a major or taking any music classes.

Waalkes demonstrates a common misconception that only rooms with signs are reserved for the music department.

“They only have signs on specific rooms, so I go to ones without the signs,” Waalkes said.

Long is frustrated with some students’ lack of cooperation.
“This seems to reflect an apparently misconstrued sense of entitlement by some of the student body,” Long said.
Students have taken down the signs on some doors in the past, according to Long.

“Unauthorized use of practice rooms could be considered an honor offense,” he said.  An honor code violation is punishable based on the nature of the offense.

The policy is difficult to enforce because professors may know all students in the major, but not all students taking music classes.  According to Mayo, students are usually left alone as long as they are not causing a disruption.

She said that students who wish to use these rooms should take lessons in the department.

“Even musically talented people…have room for improvement,” Mayo said.

For a small department, this practice-room policy was installed to encourage more people to take music classes and be involved in the major.

Waalkes and Osella never see the practice rooms all filled or have to wait in line for a room.

“There was never a multitude of people there when I went to play last year,” Waalkes said.

Mayo, who spends a significant amount of time in Pollard, said that sometimes the practice rooms are full, especially during the time of year when there are a lot of performances or recitals.

The Department of Computer Science has a similar policy for the computer labs and printing.

According to Marsha Zaidman, chair of computer science, two labs in Trinkle Hall are only accessible to students enrolled in computer science classes from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.  Outside of this time frame, all students can get into the computer labs.  Also, in the Trinkle lab, printing is free to all students.

Sophomore Kevin Hamerski thinks that this policy is fair.

“I can understand why people are upset that they don’t get computer access and printer access, but it all comes required with the major,” Hamerski said. “No other major is required to be on a computer 24/7 for all of their projects.”

The policy was instituted so that students who need lab computers with special software can have time to complete assignments, according to Zaidman.

“We instituted the policy when students enrolled in our courses complained of gaining access to a computer during peak evening hours,” Zaidman said.  “Computer science students no longer complain about having difficulty completing their assignments.”
The Department of Computer Science, like the music department, has to pay to maintain the facilities.

“The department pays for the printers and all of the printing materials, and as well as the management.  They make sure the labs always work for students who need them,” Hamerski said.

Both Long and Mayo view the use of practice rooms as a privilege of the department, just as other departments do not allow their facilities to be used by all.

“The music department does not allow students who are not qualified as listed above in the essentials to use practice rooms for the same reason that non-enrolled students are not allowed to simply walk in and use a chemistry lab or a biology lab,” Long said.

Follow me on Twitter