Band lacks practice room in new Athletic Complex

By Lindsay Cameron

The AU marching band is unable to have music rehearsals in its band room in the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex.

When the original plans for the marching band’s indoor practice room in the new athletic complex changed, the director of bands, Leonard Salvo, was never notified, he said.

Vice President of Development, Thomas Seddon, said he was under the impression that Salvo had been contacted.

“I had no idea that it was going to be so much different when I submitted everything,” Salvo said. “Even where it was going to be placed in the building, I had no clue.”

Larry Hiner served as the honorary chairperson of the campaign for band room funds. His team planned to raise money for an acoustical indoor practice room for the band in the athletic complex. Hiner said the team telephoned band alumni for donations, telling them there would be an indoor practice facility for the band.

The development office published a “Volunteer Manual” with general information about the campaign for volunteers who called potential donors. Titled “Bringing Spirit to Campus,” it stated in its conclusion: “In addition, it is expected that the new Athletic Complex will provide an indoor facility large enough to provide a practice and storage facility for the marching band.”

Later in the campaign, another document about the athletic complex was published with updated information. It stated: “The construction of the all-inclusive Athletic Complex will provide the Marching Band program with a new practice field. In addition, the complex will feature an instrument and equipment facility next to the new practice field.”

When Salvo saw this final version, he said he was shocked it mentioned only a storage room for the marching band instead of a practice room. He said he had been involved with the meetings for the construction of the complex in 2007, but since that time, he had not been contacted for any more meetings. In 2007, Salvo said the team had decided on an indoor practice room.

Salvo said he had submitted paperwork in 2007 after much research on the requirements necessary to build an indoor practice room in the Athletic Complex, including the minimum space dimensions necessary for a comfortable and safe music rehearsal. After this submission, he said everyone was on board. He said he never heard plans had changed since those meetings.

According to Seddon, when the plans changed, the donors were notified that their money was being used for an endowment for new marching band uniforms and equipment, and not for an indoor practice room.

Hiner was in charge of organizing how band alumni would be contacted for donations. Hiner said he was not told about changes in the construction of the band room, nor notifying the donors of such changes. Hiner also donated money, and he said he had not received a call since the end of the campaign as to how his donation would be used for the band.

Hiner said he did not know why plans changed for the indoor practice room but he believes it was partially due to the campaign falling short of their goal for donations; they raised about $33,000 of the expected $500,000.

Forrest Conrad, a band alumnus from 1968, was in charge of contacting the band alumni from the 1960s for the campaign and also donated, as Hiner had.

Conrad said he was unaware that his donation would now be used for an endowment for band uniforms. He knew nothing of how the room had turned out; Conrad said he had not seen it, nor heard anything about it.

“If there is a misunderstanding, it’s my responsibility as a vice president to take care of it, and I will,” Seddon said. “I will discuss it with the powers involved, and we’ll see where it leads. That’s my understanding of the issue at this point.”

Rick Ewing, the vice president of facilities management and planning, said the band will now use the room for storage. He said materials for lockers and other storage units are being purchased and installed.

Even though the campaign did not raise the projected dollar amount, Salvo said he wished someone would have come to him and said, “‘We can’t do this-what would work? How can we do this and make it as nice as we can with what we have to work with?'”

Salvo said that, if he had been involved in the discussions, the finished room could’ve been more suitable for the band’s needs.

He said he would have explained that it is not practical or efficient for the marching band to rehearse in Center for the Arts at the distance it is from the field because the band splits time sight-reading in the practice room and marching on the field during their practices.

Salvo said the Dauch College of Business was built on the band’s previous practice field, which was practical and efficient in relation to CFA at that time. The band then had to practice on the high school community field.

Now, when they cannot practice on the field at the Athletic Complex, they practice on the intramural fields behind the Rec Center, neither of which is near CFA.

Melanie Gardner, a senior band member, said the band cannot practice in the band room in the athletic complex because the sound disrupts the entire building and is dangerous to the band members’ health.

They practiced once, and she said the volume was so loud that their “ears were bleeding [figuratively]” because of the cement room, which is too small.

“I think it’s great that we have one, but I think it’s a shame that they didn’t take the time and money to make it nice in the first place, because it is not fit to be rehearsed in,” she said.

Salvo said that, in order to fit everyone in the room, the bells of the trumpets were about two feet from the backs of the flutists’ heads, which is unsafe for students’ ears, and so is the echo off the cement walls.

Sophomore Maggie Rickard said good things will come of the room-there was talk of band members painting murals on the walls-but for now the room is unfit for the band.

Salvo said he was pleased that an academic department was included in the complex.

“This has nothing to do with athletics versus music,” Salvo said.

The storage facility would greatly aid the band, he added, because storing instruments near the field saves them time and space. Carting instruments from CFA to the athletic complex cuts into rehearsal time, and cramming large instruments such as a tuba or a bass drum into a dorm room is impractical, according to Salvo.

Nevertheless, he said it is important and appreciated when someone asks what is needed. The band could have “ended up with the same facility but with different feelings about it because of the way it happened,” Salvo said.

“It might not have been ‘unfair,'” Salvo said. “But they were paying attention to other things. They just didn’t realize it made a difference.”