By Alex Ringgold
Upon entering the SLA library, you may hear a slamming drum beat over a heavy bass line all on top of the vocals to Justin Bieber being playing on the piano.
That is the music room during lunch and after school hours, and it does not follow the traditional rules of being a music room (then again what traditional rules do we follow?).
With its lack of soundproofing, surprisingly small space, and being in the center of a library, it brings the same amount of inspiration and enjoyment as any other music room.
Back when SLA was first established, the music room was just a room full of instruments, but luckily the first librarian of SLA was also a music teacher.
Former Librarian Mr. Scaer is the one responsible for starting the music program for SLA, and without him the music room might not be the lively place it is today.
The music room took off strong, with people using it on a daily basis playing all types of genres: rock, gospel, hip hop, classical, and even the “whomp whomp” of dubstep.
Juniors Abe Musselman and Tucker Bartholomew are avid users and semi-managers of the room, ever since Former Librarian Mr. Newman really created the backbone of the music room.
The two came together in Sophomore year, and ever since Mr. Newman had to depart SLA in 2011, the two help maintain the cleanliness of the room and care for the guitars.
Abe expresses how the music room provided him and Tucker with a place to play: “We use to jam with Mr. Newman and Brandon Williams.”
Tucker agrees. “Yeah, even though it’s not soundproof it still has a sense of privacy.”
The two did wish, however, there were some changes.
Abe would like some small tweaks to the room. “The only problem I have is that the room is small, it gets hot, and stinky. Some ventilation would be nice.”
Tucker simply wants to play with other people. “But ever since Mr. Newman left, and Brandon graduated, people have kind of begin to do their own thing. My main problem is there are no more jam sessions.”
Music Teacher Ben Diamond is new to SLA, but not new to the concept of a school music room. “The other public schools I’ve worked at have all had much larger, more “institutionalized” music programs,” he said.
Since SLA’s music program is so small the students are exposed to genres of music by choice of music they prefer to listen and learn. “The musical life of other schools comes from the institution, and students choose which of several categories they fit into–band, orchestra, choir, maybe jazz band.”
The Lit Lab, however, had its friction with the public space, due to the lack of soundproofing.
English Teacher Larissa Pahomov spent time in the original Lit Lab space during lunch hours, when the music room would be in use most. “It was the old space where the Lit Lab use to be,” she explained. “We were directly above the music room.”
With the music pouring in from below, one would assume writing and editing an essay became a chore with such a distraction. “It was an annoyance but understandable, we’re all trying to coexist with the building is only so big.”
Sophomore Jamekea Lee would agree to some extent. “I sometimes find the music room a distraction when I’m trying to do work in the library, but I wouldn’t take it away, people like it too much and I’m just one person.”
Soundproofing is not the only problem with the music room. Because the program is so small there is no supervision on the instruments and the room.”Something really awesome about SLA’s music room–it’s open to everyone.” Mr. Diamond comments.
“The instruments are there for the students, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a music class or not.”
But you give an inch and they break musical instruments.
“One problem is that things get abused and broken and it’s hard to tell who is responsible.” Mr. Diamond doesn’t stress how to care for musical instruments in his music class, but he can’t teach everyone in the school.
“Our musical community is generally respectful, but because of the large number of students who use the gear, it takes a beating, and not everyone has been taught how to take care of the equipment.”
At the rate the music room’s equipment gets broken or discombobulates there should not still be functional instruments, and SLA certainly doesn’t have the ability to give every student their own personal guitar to borrow for the year, like traditional schools do with their orchestra instruments.
That’s where the donors come in.
When Mr. Newman embarked from SLA he donated two guitar amps to the school, Mr. Diamond has had friends come and donate instruments, and when a keyboard was accidentally dropped by a student, it was replaced by the same student.
In terms of equipment, there is hope for the music room, as people bring their own amplifier cords and drum sticks, giving a sense of responsibility to those who want to enjoy the public space.
And never is anyone playing alone in the music room, often students joining in to each other songs no matter what they’re playing, adding that SLA touch of collaboration to even their music life.
The music room, as small as it be, as loud as it is during lunch hours, and as under staff as it seems, it is a place of enlightenment and fun, a place to escape the stress of school and life, a place where every kid has a say in what happens as long as they put work into their notes.
Mr. Diamond loves the new space where he works. “I absolutely think every school should have a music room.”