Music is a noble passion, and playing piano in particular is a wonderful pursuit. Music is said to heal as many people as medicine does, and the piano is one of the most versatile and expressive instruments at our disposal. It’s a wonderful thing to practice.
But does it really have to be in Lind Hall?
Just 30 feet north, a library full of students is trying to study, and on all sides of the piano, there are student offices. When you’re trying to study at 11 p.m., it’s hard to focus through the night’s 14th recital of Heart and Soul. It’s not any easier at 11 a.m., either.
Clearly, students at the University want a free and accessible place to practice or just to putter around. Either way, it’s a healthy and reliable method to relieve stress that teaches our minds more than Netflix does. A lot of us played the piano in our youth and miss it, and even more of us just find it fun. Unfortunately, though, practice pianos on campus are a little hard-to-reach. Freshmen in dorms can duke it out for the building’s only practice room, but beyond that, the University’s only remaining options are paid practice rooms in Ferguson or the public pianos in Coffman or Lind Hall.
In Ferguson, practice rooms are cheaper for students in a music major or enrolled in a music class than for those who are not. For the music majors, the ten-hour punch card (“hourly”) for piano practice is $25 and the semester and summer pass is $65. For students who are not music majors, but are enrolled in a music class, the hourly is $65 and the semester pass is $115, and it increases for summers. For non-music-major, non-music-class students, an hourly card is $115 and the pass for the semester or summer is $255.
The music department requires these fees for facility upkeep, to tune and repair the instruments, to pay those who monitor it around the clock and other expenditures. But unfortunately, with those kinds of fees to compete with our rents and weekends, it’s not a surprise that the Ferguson practice rooms are far off the beaten path — not to mention that they're also all the way on West Bank. The remaining options, especially if you’re not a dorm resident, are the two public pianos. A University of our purchasing power could do with a few more, even low-quality, free-to-practice pianos.
The Coffman piano has something of a following. Lots of people play there — many of them are quite accomplished — while students have a grand old time getting their work done in the immediate area. This is all fine and well because, while students do work there, Coffman is not a library. There is no expectation of a library’s quietude and focus. On the other hand, Lind Hall’s Taylor Center is a hub especially for students of science and engineering who walk in with no expectation of public music.
The Lind piano, painted maroon and gold, bears the melody of the school song — it’s a darling piano, right up there with Coffman’s Goldy statue for photo ops. But please, to all the non-pass-holding pianists, keep in mind your fellow students when you play it. I’m glad there’s a free piano to practice with, but a library seems like an oxymoronic place to put it. What about the Rec?