Easthampton Music Boosters sound out limits of band space in new school

EASTHAMPTON — Although construction of the new Mountain View School is still underway, complaints are being raised about the music room’s practice and performance space inside the $109 million building.

An online petition launched last week by Shelby Hyvonen, a parent of two who is part of the college band and parent volunteer for the Easthampton Music Boosters, had nearly 160 people sign on Friday. The petitioners are concerned that the music room is not large enough and does not filter out noise from a gymnasium that lines one of its walls.

“Learning music is important for brain development. Having access to the necessary resources and space is equally important for all subjects, and music should not be left out, wrote Danielle Martineau on the Change.org petition. “Acoustics are an important feature for a band’s rehearsal and should be considered in the location of the classroom.”

Jason Moczulewski, who identified himself on the petition as a musician, said he couldn’t imagine trying to perform in the new space.

On the petition, Hyvonen – who described the voices on the petition as a “group of parents and community members invested in the wonderful group program of the Easthampton School District” – requested that the administration of the school and management teams are considering ways to alleviate issues of lack of space and noise pollution, as well as long-term retention in the band program.

Asking for further comments from the group, Hyvonen said they would prefer to refrain “from speaking about the matter further publicly, and instead give the school’s management team a chance to consider our concerns. common areas and explore changes that can be made to help.”

Superintendent Allison LeClair declined to comment.

In addition to the petition, the group submitted a letter to the school committee, and Hyvonen spoke about the group’s concern during the public comment portion of the committee meeting on Wednesday.

“While we are grateful for the many improvements made by the new school building, we share strong concerns about the shortcomings of space for the college orchestra,” Hyvonen said at the meeting. “We understand that there may have been factors involved in funding the grant for this project that dictated the type of practice and performance space that could be built; however, the current situation does not appear to meet the physical and acoustic needs of our district’s much-loved music program.

Similar to the wording of the petition, Hyvonen explained that the band’s current rehearsal space in Mountain View is directly connected to the gymnasium and a smaller adaptive physical education space on the other side. The two sound production activities are separated by a movable 2-inch dividing wall, she said.

“It creates a huge amount of noise pollution in both directions; which is especially relevant for growing instrumentalists, who are striving to learn the nuances of music-making, both individually and with others,” she said.

Regarding space, Hyvonen said the music room was not large enough to accommodate the college’s entire music program.

The old White Brook Middle School band room, while larger than the new school band room, was not big enough for the whole band to rehearse there, she said.

The 176,155 square foot Mountain View School building will eventually house all students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and will house the three elementary schools of Easthampton, Maple, Center and Pepin, along with White Middle School Brook, which will be demolished. Students in grades five through eight were welcomed into the new building in January. The last two elementary wings of the building that will house pre-kindergarten through fourth grade have been sectioned off, so workers can complete their classrooms.

The group suggested solving the sound and space problem by swapping the music room and the adaptive physical education room, or moving the adaptive physical education room into the main gymnasium and having rehearsal and giving classes in the current adaptive physical education room.

If space and sound issues aren’t resolved, Hyvonen said the band believes students may lose interest in the school’s music program, which, in turn, will raise concerns about retention. teaching staff.

“As ratepayers of this district, we believe that any student who participates in a band has the right to have a space that is conducive to learning music,” she said. “We ask that the School Committee help carefully and creatively consider ways to address these common concerns in an effort to maintain the strong reputation of our music program in the region. We hope that this concern can be added to the agenda of a future meeting. I hope we can team up to find a solution for everyone involved.

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]

Corina C. Butler