Mar 3rd, 2020, 03:31 PM

Not One, but Two Music Rooms at AUP

By Adaeze Nwokolobia
An open mic during orientation week. Image credit: AUP
Once upon a creative chasm: the good intentions behind the creation of a new music room outweighs its purpose

Step into the music room. Blue and orange electric guitars line the wall, while wooden acoustic guitars rest on the floor, backs to the wall. Huge wires are curled up on a nook, and the microphones and amps lay close by. Next to the door is an upright piano.

Above the piano, sheet music is pasted on the wall as a thoughtful guide to an aspiring pianist. By the rock-house drums is a Yamaha electric keyboard. Go further. There is a secret inner alcove with a distinct reverberation crucial for vocal practice. Clearly, this is a musician’s haven. What's better is that it’s available on campus for students to use. Or is it?

There are two music rooms at AUP serving the exact same purpose: they provide students with access to musical instruments and equipment. The duality of the music rooms has created a chasm in the creative community.

For student musicians, having two music rooms is redundant because only one room is actually needed to serve musical purposes. For the non-musicians, the extra space represents a wasted opportunity for something worthwhile like a home for the Radio Club.

AUP's music rooms supposedly present wide-ranging spatial choices for music makers and enthusiasts. But one is semi-functional with high-quality yet old equipment while the other has since been converted into a storage space by lack of use.

These rooms, known as the old and the new music room respectively, have been a mystery on campus. Why do they exist simultaneously?  

Their location in the basements of connected Quai d'Orsay and  Combes buildings keeps them deteriorating away from the public eye. The creative community is up in arms, and solutions are in recompense. 

AUP students at an open mic. Image credit: Lydia Wiernik 

The new music room is located below the ground floor in the Quai d'Orsay while the old room is located in the basement of the student cafeteria, the Amex, in Combes. The music rooms are only available to students registered in the non-exclusive Music Club with a limit of one person at a time per session. 

The students have to be included in a pre-approved list and turn in their IDs before entry. This is done to help track who goes in and comes out.  

In a small urban campus like AUP, the dedication to a well-equipped music facility is praiseworthy. However, the undue waste of limited space surely raises a brow.

The presence of the music rooms in the absence of a music program at AUP shows a commitment to students' interests. However, the commitment is limited to the establishment of a club whose purpose still yet remains to be seen other than collating the number of students who can access its resources.

Earlier in the semester, Philosophy major and President of the Music Club, Joseph Major sent out an email to the registered members acknowledging that while the club existed, it was non-functional at the moment. 

“We have been busy dealing with some administrative matters so that we can revive what has been a somewhat dormant club,” Major said. He also expressed his hope for the growth of the club in terms of increased social engagement and productivity.

As the leader of the club, Major acknowledged his limitations as a student and self-taught musician by asking for support. He called on club members to offer suggestions on what they would like to see in the music room as well as potential volunteers to help with club activities including sound engineering workshops.

In a series of written statements to Peacock Plume, Major shared his vision of helping to create an optimal music facility at AUP.  

“I can assure you that the potential of this room is really amazing. After some repairs and investments in some more gear, the room will have full recording and band rehearsal space capabilities - perfect for recording demos or just having a jam. But I must encourage you all to be patient for a short while as these things take time to set up,” Major said. 

Think of an artificial golf space in an urban country club. It is a niche addition to the club for a set of members whose golf interests the artificial golf space can appeal to. Only, this paradise for the striving artist in the form of the music room needs renovations and equipment upgrades.

All members of the AUP community get involved with music. Image credit: AUP

The music room provides a creative outlet for artist expression in an institution that has no formal music program. As such, the music room is complimentary yet it requires funding in order to provide music education and access informally in place of a standard institutional program.

“It’s spooky!” 

Evan Floyd, Film Major and AUP film senate representative in an interview with Peacock News described the location of the old music room as scary.

His reason? It's tucked away and almost always forgotten in a basement under the Amex, a thriving and fun jazz-inspired open mic night site and contemporary student cafeteria. Floyd says that this reduces the appeal to students who might want to explore music. When asked what could be done, he suggested more funding. 

 “We need support from the administration and get money from the student body to touch it up and make it look nice. It could get cleaned up really nice and make it look cute.” He described more funding as a viable solution that could lead to renovations to make it look more appealing.

He also pointed out that while the music rooms were located in the basement to help with sound control, they still needed a touch to bring the room back to life and into the spotlight.  

Floyd shared both his disappointment in the duality of the music rooms and recommendations for the space to be converted into something worthwhile.

Although Floyd is as an active representative in AUP’s student government — a body that happens to be in charge of budgets and dispensing money to clubs — his position on the matter derives from his interests as a creative arts student. To him, the creative community in media, music, and film has higher authority on this matter. 

"It's musty, but cool."

Ngo Ngoc vi Magda, a Global Communications Major, had this to say about the old music room. Prior to her brief interview with Peacock in the Amex, she had no idea that there was another music room located under the cafeteria.

She knew there was a new music room at AUP but had never been to it. She acknowledged that the place was cool with the instruments but she had problems with aesthetics as well as disturbances.

She said could hear footsteps from the Amex and the room's interior look was off-putting. For her, structural renovations like increased soundproofing and interior redecorating would greatly help.

Major says that there is no need to relocate and a new room should have never been created in the first place. “I’ve heard complaints about the main room but I am of the firm conviction that we are really lucky to have access to a space like it, especially in a city like Paris and I really believe that it has a lot of potential.” 

Major is in the best position to provide a detailed assessment of what solutions are needed to solve the dual music room problem.

Not only as President but as a musician who makes music humbly from his room, he believes the music rooms do not need to be state-of-the-art but only functional. He says that funding is not a big issue as they are small investments needed to be in the rooms. 

On Maintenance

Major points out that large scale renovations could start with small-scale maintenance.

"There needs to be a constant supply of essential items such as guitar strings or drumsticks in the old room. Things that get broken or damaged easily should be replaced right away," Major says.

On a critical tangent, Major points out that the new room is too small for anything musically purposeful other than a vocal recording booth. Even then he asserts this would be a bad investment because the old music room has an inner alcove he believes could be used recording purposes.

The inner alcove is currently a holding space for worn-out instruments which Major has vowed to clear out and make more useful to student artists.

In maximizing the space the inner alcove provides,   Major says the cost in setting it up as a mini recording studio would be minimal in scale.  “The improvements needed are small investments that will allow students to record music easily and not have the need to deal with setting up too much."


On Heat conditions

There are no windows in the music rooms, and this is for sound-proofing purposes. Major suggests that more ventilation might be needed but not the kind that could cause recording interference .He suggested employing the use of fans that could be turned off during recording.


New Equipment

Currently, Major says that there is an old yet capable Mackie mixer with 16 channels that can be connected to the mic and track a whole band in the old music room.

However, an analog to digital converter is needed to make the mixer live up to its full potential. As discussed earlier, Major hopes to transform the inner alcove to a cozy recording studio. 

“It would be a nice place to record vocals because of its isolated and few reverberations and with some room treatment it could be a great control room for vocal recording, mixers and computer monitors.” He says.

Major states that this converter, also known as a soundcard, can be used alongside new and more versatile mics like a condenser mic for vocals and even a stereo mic to record the upright piano.

Studio monitors and a midi keyboard would be great additions as well. He adds that while there are currently drum mics they never get used because they need to become more accessible. 



The old music room has a computer with little or no sophisticated recording software save for the typical garage band. Major states that DAW's Digital Audio Workstation like logic would be a breakthrough addition for aspiring student producers who want to make their own music at school. 

The new music room’s sign in Quai d’Orsay has been taken down and the door is permanently locked. Some students when broached on the duality topic are of the opinion that the new music room is unneeded and therefore redundant. 

While suggestions for what the new music room could be used for range from a nice reading area to AUP radio spot to a plain old broom closet, the waste of space in an urban campus is not to be taken lightly.

Following the administration's decision to seal off the new music room, it is safe to note that the old music room has since taken back its rightful place as the main room.

This is instrumental in the development of a single, conducive space for creative students with interests in music to hone their skills and expand their interests from just playing instruments to producing their own music.

It suffices to say that the availability of a vacant room offers a new opportunity for creative students. Perhaps, the creative chasm caused by unused spaces might sufficiently be bridged sooner than later.

Interested in hearing more about this story? Check out what Peacock Play had to say about the dichotomy of the music rooms. Also, head over to AUP's YouTube channel to check out more student videos!

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