Music eyes new building, security possibilities

Becky Bowman

School of Music Dean Bernard Dobroski said Tuesday that the school will lobby for a new building on the filled-in Lagoon that would be close to Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and Regenstein Hall of Music.

“It’s going to be more space for us to consider,” Dobroski said after a forum for Music students Tuesday afternoon.

“The best option for us, of course, is to not be split up again,” he said, referring to the Music Administration Building’s distance from the other Music buildings.

About 40 administrators, faculty members and students attended the Student Advisory Board forum in the Pick-Staiger rehearsal room to discuss concerns such as the poor condition of Music facilities and recent building security proposals.

Dobroski said while Music facilities need improvement, donors often give money to other areas of campus.

“When a donor can help cure cancer, even if they are dedicated to the arts, they will make that tough decision,” he said.

The School of Music has received $17 million from Campaign Northwestern, said Vice President for University Development Ronald Vanden Dorpel.

The money has funded building improvements and scholarships as well as other projects, Dobroski said. But when the recent drive for buildings began, the School of Music didn’t come first because it received two buildings, Pick-Staiger and Regenstein, in the 1970s, Dobroski said.

Throughout the wave of campus construction, the school has continued to raise between $1 million and $3 million each year, Dobroski said. But fond memories of MAB often make Music alumni reluctant to donate funds for a new building, he said.

In addition to fund raising for a new building, the school has poured money into necessary MAB improvements such as adding a sprinkler system, removing dangerous fire escapes and replacing the roof during the last ten years, Dobroski said.

But students say they are still dissatisfied with the facilities. At the forum, they complained about temperature regulation in all three Music buildings. Students also mentioned faulty soundproofing, including doors that cannot be closed and adjoining practice rooms that do not have separate entrances. One student said she often needs to use either a trash can or a chair to keep a door closed in the Music Practice Hall, commonly known as the Beehive.

These same problems exist in MAB, said Music graduate student Alex Peh.

“Doors don’t really close in MAB either,” Peh said. “The doorknobs fall off. There’s no soundproofing, which is really really distracting. It’s very much like they’re trying to make a regular building into a music building.”

Music graduate student Carly Black had a mishap with one of the faulty doorknobs earlier this quarter. A passerby had to release Black when the door to her practice room refused to open. Black, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Bowling Green University, said that while MAB holds some old-building charm, its facilities are inferior to those of other schools.

“NU has an esteemed faculty, but the facilities are less than adequate,” Black said. “If you’re paying over $20,000 out of pocket for tuition, you want things to be nice.”

MAB, originally a women’s dormitory and one of the oldest buildings on campus, faces extra obstacles to improvements because of its historic value, said Associate Music Dean for Administration and Finance Rene Machado. The electrical wiring, which was added after the building was built, could also prevent the addition of an electronic security system, he said. The board has requested a Marlok key system to make the building more secure.

Surface improvements such as painting and retiling were made in MAB and the Beehive during last summer and Winter Break, Machado said. Additional doors also were added between adjacent rooms in MAB to help soundproof the practice spaces, he said.

While extra doors may be a small improvement, muffling the sound in the MAB practice rooms is a problem for voice majors, who prefer to hear sound reverberate in the small rooms.

Music facilities are an embarrassment to the school, said Music junior Beth Kirkpatrick.

“It’s just unbelievable when you compare MAB to the facilities (of other departments) at NU and the music facilities at other schools,” Kirkpatrick said. “The School of Music is nationally renowned, and yet our facilities are worse than most high schools.”