During the spring semester, Professor and Director of Bands Marshall Kimball spent time during every band rehearsal asking the musicians in the room to be patient just a little longer.
“By the end of that semester, a third of our ceiling tiles were gone due to water leaks in the roof,” he says. “There were plastic buckets throughout the room to catch the water and, of course, there were acoustic issues. Individual students couldn’t practice any time they wanted because the space was also used for classes.”
Kimball, who is the Chair of the Music Department, knew what was coming as soon as the spring weather subsided.
By the first week of classes this fall, Kimball says the band members were astounded.
“One of my students came in and the first thing she said was, ‘It smells so good and so new.’ It is night and day in comparison to how they saw it in the spring,” Kimball says.
This summer, the College accomplished many deferred maintenance projects. Among them was the Band Rehearsal Hall, located at the corner of Third and Butler streets. In addition to a new roof, the interior of the band hall was completely renovated — from new flooring and ceiling to additional practice spaces, a separate new classroom, restrooms and offices. About 80 Symphonic Band musicians and 40-plus Wind Ensemble Band musicians use the space for rehearsal and individual practice. Additionally, it is used for music classes.
As a member of the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and Concert Choir, alto sax player Lauren Eakle ’20 knows having a quality space in which to practice is important. She is a Music Therapy and Psychology double major, so the facility will play an important role in her academics, as well.
“I’ve spent countless hours in the practice rooms already this semester,” Eakle says. “The fact that Marietta College would invest their time and money into this space that is used so frequently and by so many proves to me that they are thinking of the future. They are trying to help their students succeed by providing us with a facility that doesn’t limit us, but instead enables us to have the best experience possible when it comes to creating music.”
Beyond repairing and remodeling the structure, the College also invested in upgrading the acoustics, adding Bluetooth speakers, projectors and screens, smart TVs, and recording and playback capabilities. There are four Wenger Sound Loc practice rooms, a storage library, individual instrument storage lockers, a large secure storage area and an ID card reader for 24-hour access to the building.
“Now the band hall is a wonderful space with a fixed roof, state-of-the-art sound system, multiple practice rooms and a classroom,” Eakle says. “The space is functional and looks incredibly professional. I know it has seen increased use after the renovation.”
Kimball, who will retire at the end of the academic year, has spent more than a year preparing the Music Therapy program for accreditation through the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and the Music Department for re-accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and is excited to check the band hall renovation off his to-do list.
“The Administration wanted this space to become a showcase for our music program — and I’d have to say it’s the most technologically advanced space on the entire campus,” he says. “The students notice everything — the floors, the ceiling, the smell — it is a different space.”
- Gi Smith