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Practice equality

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For those of you who have grown tired of the cookie-cutter criticisms leveled at on-campus living, fear not. I do have a bone to pick with dorm life, but I will abstain from attacking parietals, single-sex dorms or any number of easier targets. Instead, my complaint centers on musical practice spaces in dorms. Or rather, lack thereof.

This complaint is rooted in an experience I had one sunny day in the spring of 2010, when student band Toes on the Nose held its inaugural practice in preparation for the upcoming Battle of the Bands at Legends. As the drummer, I was envious of my three band mates. They carried their guitars and amps effortlessly to the practice space and after locating an outlet were ready to play. Two of them hailed from Hawaii and still managed to bring their instruments to school. Even if I wasn’t a plane flight away from South Bend, there’s no way I would consider fitting my kit into an already cramped dorm room.

I had no other option but to rely on the music department’s willingness to let a stranger use their drums. Unfortunately, we drank from this well one too many times. No longer do I feel comfortable slinking around Ricci, hoping for an unattended room with some unlocked percussion instruments.

As a freshman, this standoffishness bothered me. I was no novice. I was not going to break heads or crack cymbals. How could Notre Dame’s music department be so stingy with their equipment?

I have come to realize, however, that my anger was misplaced. The music department, like the athletic department, has a right to deny us common folk from using its equipment. Good thing we have The Rock, Rolfs and a multitude of residence halls with exercise rooms.

If I want to shoot some hoops, I don’t have to work around Mike Brey’s practice schedule. If I want to pump some iron, I don’t have to wait for the football team to conclude their workout. The same cannot be said for musical pursuits.

I understand the need for so many spaces to exercise. Notre Dame’s student body is fit, athletic and competitive. The weight room in Keough, as I imagine is the case with any of the other dorm workout spaces, is frequently occupied.

That said, Notre Dame’s student body is also musically talented. Hundreds participate in various instrumental and vocal ensembles. Many more play in student bands. Heck, we even produced most of Umphrey’s McGee.

Buying a squat rack, elliptical and set of dumbbells costs more than simply providing an empty room for musical practice. How hard would it be for dorms to set aside some space in the basement for people to jam? Who knows, another Umphrey’s could emerge.

Notre Dame possesses the talent to be a vibrant musical community. I have seen it firsthand. All it needs to do is foster this talent.

Residence hall practice spaces are the first step.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.