BYU’s future music building will be ‘much-needed’ new home for students

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The construction of BYU’s future School of Music building is shown here from July 2021. The building is expected to be completed by Fall 2022, and students can attend classes there starting Winter Semester 2023. (Melissa Collado)

The new BYU School of Music building’s construction is expected to be completed by Fall 2022, and students can attend classes there starting Winter Semester 2023.

Dean Ed Adams of the College of Fine Arts and Communications believes the new building will become a great visiting point for BYU and a much-needed new home for the School of Music.

BYU’s current School of Music is located in the Harris Fine Arts Center building. The HFAC houses the Department of Design, the Department of Theatre and Media Arts, the Department of Art, BYU Arts Production and the School of Music.

The HFAC’s structure has not grown as the college has added more and more students from each department. This has led to extensive problems. There are not enough rooms to accommodate everyone, meaning musicians have lots of difficulties coordinating room usage or they get spread out to different rooms in different buildings across campus, Adams said.

In addition, Adams said artists and designers in the HFAC work with paints and turpentines which can lead to musicians inhaling paint fumes. Another safety issue is the building’s absence of proper acoustics in ensemble rooms. Sound levels can get to ear-splitting levels extremely fast.

Because of the improper building design and lack of appropriate wall padding, performers ears’ can be heavily damaged, Adams said. Currently, musicians have to wear earplugs while they practice in those rooms. “Imagine playing music with earplugs; it compromises the integrity of playing an instrument.”

Adams said the HFAC is also made out of concrete, allowing sound to run along the floors and reverberate across the building.

Commercial music student Nathan Winters comes from a musical family, has played percussion instruments for 10 years and is interested in the production side of the music industry. One of the things Winters said he looks forward to most about the new building is the future concert hall.

Winters said the De Jong Concert Hall does not currently have large seating options and has to have microphones hung everywhere for every single performance to make sure sound gets carried throughout the space.

The new concert hall will be meticulously designed to allow audiences to hear everything from the stage naturally with no filters or microphone application, Winters said. Only soloists will need their singular mic.

People come to concerts and performances to relax and enjoy art and music, Winters said. “If audiences are more focused on a high pitch sound from the mics or from all the hundreds of mics being visible, then we’ve failed.”

The new concert hall is a very exciting addition to McKenna Taylor, a violin performance major. She said she’s happy there will be a great addition of seats for more people to come see the orchestra perform.

“In the concert hall, we will also have a beautiful, large pipe organ. I believe the organ will become a great showpiece for the university,” Adams said.

Another problem Adams, Winters and Taylor all mentioned was the current student practice rooms located in the basement of the HFAC. These practice rooms have no windows that allow natural light. The new practice rooms will have windows and be on the upper floors intermixed with faculty offices.

“Musicians have to spend hours on hours on hours practicing in pretty depressing rooms. The future practice rooms will be much better for students’ mental health,” Winters said.

Adams said these practice rooms will allow students to step over to their faculty mentors’ offices to receive instruction or correction right when they need it.

Taylor sees the new music building as motivation for herself and future BYU musicians to practice more. A new building solely built for music students is something to be so grateful for, she said.

“It feels very special to be getting our own updated, fresh building just for music students. I think future students will appreciate it even more,” Taylor said.

Those who wish to see daily progress and updates on the School of Music building can see 24-hour coverage on the College of Fine Arts and Communications website.

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