The practice areas of the 30-year-old jazz school must be renovated
For musicians, the practice space is difficult to find. It’s even harder to find in a city of almost 8.5 million people where apartments are tight and house prices are high. Many student musicians look to their schools for the practice space they need, but it turns out that schools are struggling to provide that space as well.
The new school of jazz and contemporary music faculties web page says it provides “state of the art” facilities for students, including “the practice rooms are equipped with what a student needs to grow and develop their discipline.” The performance spaces on the 4th and 5th floors of the Arnhold Hall and the Tishman Auditorium are state of the art, as the spaces have been acoustically designed for live musical performances. The sound equipment of the recording studio made available to students is also at the cutting edge of technology.
However, the floors primarily used by jazz students have only received minor updates in the past 30 years, according to COPA chief of staff Matthew Sullivan.
In the fall of 2015, Mannes moved downtown from her old home on the Upper West Side. Arnhold Hall on W. 13th St. is now the location of the New School’s newly formed Performing Arts College. It took about nine months for the school to complete renovations to convert several floors of Arnhold Hall into musical spaces, according to Sullivan. COPA comprises three previously independent schools, the Mannes School of Music, The School of Jazz and The School of Drama. This facilitated collaboration between students from all schools, as well as the possibility of cross-registering for courses without having to move around the city.
Jazz and contemporary music currently occupy the fifth and sixth floors of Arnhold Hall. Students complain that the jazz practice rooms are below par. Many Jazz students play loud instruments that they cannot practice in their apartments or dormitories. They need practice rooms at school.
“They built these great spaces [at Mannes] to practice, and what they have to do for jazz is soundproof the practice rooms, ”said Cemre Necefbas, BA / BFA Jazz and Lang contemporary music student and senator.
“Our practice rooms are not very soundproof,” said Necefbas. “As a singer, if I’m next to a trumpeter, saxophonist or drummer, it’s hard to train.”
“Many venues are not well soundproofed, which makes rehearsals and practice very difficult,” said Hattie Simon, singer at Jazz. She said the problem was “a huge problem with the practice rooms on the Jazz floors.”
Dr Keller Coker, the new dean of jazz and contemporary music, intends to solve this problem. “I had meetings with those in charge of the facilities and equipment to ask them what they tried and what was planned,” he said. “The next phase of renovation of this building [Arnhold Hall] remodels the fifth and sixth floors. So practice rooms probably won’t improve until this happens. This is going to be a big part of my job. “
“There is so much bleeding that it makes some classrooms unusable,” admitted Coker.
But Coker pointed out that the solution may not be more or better practice rooms, but rather access to larger classrooms and performance spaces. “Even the best practice rooms aren’t that healthy for your ears. If you play piccolo in a training hall for two hours, you will damage your ears, no matter how good the hall is, ”he said.
“We’re trying to find different ways to have bigger spaces for the students to practice. The school I was in before ended up having a 24 hour building policy so that students could have access to larger rooms, which it does. much healthier, ”Coker said. Arnhold Hall’s music practice rooms are not open 24 hours a day, although the University Center is now open 24/7 which allows Parsons students to access the studio late at night.
Currently, performance spaces on the fourth and fifth floors of Arnhold Hall are not available for “student rehearsals, photoshoots, jam sessions or practice sessions under any circumstances,” according to the Jazz Facilities and Equipment Handbook found on the facilities web page.
“I usually practice at Arnhold Hall in the new practice rooms,” said Julie Kim, cellist and rookie at Mannes. “They’re pretty cool, most of them are soundproofed.” Speaking of the old practice rooms on the fifth and sixth floors, Kim said, “It’s so cramped!
COPA chief of staff Matthew Sullivan says floors 5 and 6 are far from perfect. While there are no concrete plans at the moment for further large-scale renovations to Arnhold Hall, “he said,” everyone recognizes that there is more work to be done. at Arnhold Hall, particularly on floors 5 and 6, which have only received minor work. upgrades over the past thirty years. “
Since Mannes and Jazz joined COPA, attempts have been made to reduce the gap between schools by allowing all students to use all practice rooms. All Jazz administrative offices and almost all Jazz classes are held on the fifth and sixth floors, which has created a community of Jazz students specifically on these floors.
“All practice rooms are accessible to everyone. It’s first come, first serve to get the vouchers, ”Coker said. Students are only guaranteed “10 hours of planned practice” according to the Jazz facilities webpage.
Sullivan echoed the same statement, “All Mannes and Jazz students have equal access to practice spaces at Arnhold Hall and have had equal access since the day Mannes moved to Arnhold Hall almost two years ago.
Lang’s contemporary music students do not use the COPA facilities at Arnhold Hall at all. Sadie Glenn, a contemporary music student from Lang who studies voice and plays the flute, said: “I normally use the very small practice rooms in Stuy. [dorms], because I live there.
Kerrey Hall, the University Center dormitory, offers four practice rooms available 24/7 for students who do not live on campus and those who live at Kerrey Hall. Students are allowed to book 2 hours per day and the size of the spaces cannot accommodate large instruments or ensembles.
Evan Rapport, the Chair of Contemporary Music, attempted to alleviate this problem by providing a practice room for Lang. “We tried to create a training space in Lang, but it didn’t really work. We will probably try again in the near future, ”he said, citing low interest from students.
Despite the availability of practice rooms in each dormitory, students report that pianos are not tuned and rooms are not soundproofed. “When you go there [to the Stuy dorm practice rooms in the basement] you can hear everyone and everyone can hear you, ”Glenn said. Some doors are broken and do not close completely. “I don’t think it’s a very good environment to practice. It doesn’t give you any clarity of sound, ”she added.
Necefbas, who also studies contemporary music at Lang, said: “If [the school] aims to attract singer-songwriters or people interested in producing, they will obviously need more space to practice.
Photos by Hannah Emmert.