Where The Music Lives

Where The Music Lives

by Peter Noonan, Music teacher and Performing Arts Team Leader

     All of our community is enthusiastic about the spaces in our new campus. The music department is especially excited to expand into our new specialized areas in the performing arts wing. The music classrooms include a fully soundproofed, elementary space for aural experimentation. Our Japanese traditional instruments program lives in a beautiful, acoustically-treated, tatami room. We have studio spaces that include two new acoustic upright pianos. The studios are separated by a control room with a sound desk and are surrounded by four practice rooms that allow for individuals and small groups to break away from the main group for focussed skill development. The connected rooms have open lines of sight between them to compliment collaborative creation.

high school students playing drums in a soundproof practice room

One of four soundproof practice rooms in the Performing Arts wing.

Recording studio adjacent to music rooms.

     As a department, we had many philosophical considerations that went into the design of these facilities. We wanted all of the performing arts classrooms to be near each other so that cross-pollination would be organic. At last, we have all of the music rooms together in one wing with drama classrooms just across the hallway. All of these spaces live just below the auditorium, a place properly suited for sharing our art. It was important for us to have the auditorium be an extension of our classrooms that we can expand into naturally. 

    We wanted the music spaces to be ‘lived in’ regularly. One obvious way this occurs is how the practice rooms are continuously used by classes and individuals. A less obvious way that we planned for the spaces to be consistently used was by making them transformable, in shape and in sound isolation. Studio A and Studio B can be separate classrooms or with the soundproofed doors opened, they can accommodate a larger group of collaborating musicians. We can even transform the function of these spaces.

One of four music rooms outfitted with a 74-inch touchscreen display and connected to other music rooms through the audio system.

     When our musicians have a creative product to share, sometimes we perform it on stage and other times we want to record it. Now we can transform these classrooms into a fully operational, hi-fidelity recording studio. The full recording capability of studio A and B, plus the four practice rooms operating as recording-isolation booths, can handle 24 musicians in a single take. Each musician can listen to the full group through headphones connected to the fitted audio system. You might ask: when will this actually happen? Here is an example of ourGr. 10 music class’ recording of We Don't Talk About Bruno from Disney's film Encanto. We already have many more examples to share.

    It was important that the recording studio and auditorium be technically accessible by our developing musicians. We have the same wirelessly-controlled mixing and recording systems in our studios and auditorium. We can partition the recording software capability to be operated by individual  iPads, allowing for musicians to control only what they need without it being overly complicated. Then, when we run larger productions or recordings, we have digital controllers with motorized-faders that are industry standard for our musicians to grow with as they develop professional skills. 

8 musicians playing the Japanese instrument, the koto, in an auditorium with green-lit background.

The Middle School koto ensemble play in the multipurpose and flexible auditorium directly above the Performing Arts wing.

     It has been one of my personal dreams to create art in spaces like these that we have designed. We are immensely grateful for the opportunities available to all of our musicians and we look forward to sharing our art with you.