By Sarah Stortz
Several music students met with David Gier, the director of the University of Iowa School of Music, after petitioning for a change to allow for unrestricted access to practice rooms.
The current schedule for open practice rooms are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, the rooms are
open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the summer, they’re only open on the weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
UI junior Joseph Stiefel, a major in piano performance who helped initiate the petition, said the practice hours were based on the policies at the University Capitol Center, one of the music school’s locations before the Voxman Music Building opened last fall.
“Now that we have our own building, the reasons don’t hold up anymore,” Stiefel said. “They do this to ensure safety and security of students, and we appreciate it, but we don’t believe it won’t be any less safe. It’s a nonsensical claim.”
Gier has acknowledged the flaw while meeting with the students.
“We’re trying to figure how to live in this building; our policies haven’t caught up,” he said.
Gier said he could understand students’ frustrations, and he hopes to open practice rooms on weekends.
“I’m very sympathetic to [their] concerns; I was once a music student, too,” Gier said. “In the end, we want the best for student learning. It’s a process.”
A large white board was open for students to sign their name in support of the petition to give unrestricted access to practice rooms in the Voxman on April 11. The board made an appearance again on April 14, peaking at more than 200 signatures.
Stiefel said the limited hours are problematic for many musicians on campus, noting university breaks are when students need to practice the most.
“Breaks have the potential to be a fantastic time for artistic growth, especially since audition season is right after winter break. It feels like they’re negating the potential of students,” Stiefel said. “We’re so grateful for the music building; I can’t imagine a better facility for practicing. However, we can’t use them as much as we need to.”
UI doctor of musical arts student Alejandra Escobar, who signed the petition, said the school’s practice hours conflict with her tendency to work late.
“You feel like it’s not worth it to go back to the school because they will close soon. However, you can’t force yourself to stay [home] because you won’t be productive,” she said. “Also, sometimes you have a creative idea late at night, and you just can’t go to school to try it because it is closed.”
UI doctor of musical arts student Ha Na Song, who also signed the board, said she didn’t have this issue at her previous school.
“I did my master’s in Indiana University-Bloomington; they open practice rooms there every day,” she said. “They even offer shuttles for those who practice at night.”