The music building underwent renovations during the past year to address safety and health issues, bring the building up to code and make it handicap accessible. State-of-the-art updates also were made, and the overall appearance of the building was improved.
No remodeling had been done to the building, constructed in the 1960s, before the recent renovations, and the needs of musicians 45 years ago were quite different from the needs of musicians today. One of the concerns was bringing Amarillo College’s technology up to date and getting Wi-Fi into the building.
Before the renovations, the music building “was ugly and nonfunctional,” said Danielle Gray, an education major. “The technology wasn’t up to date.”
Dr. Steven Weber, the newly named department chairman, and Dr. Jim Rauscher, a piano professor and former department chair, had nothing but positive things to say about the changes.
“I’m excited,” Weber said. “There is such a great bridge from the past to the future.”
Students and faculty members said they are thrilled about the new, state-of-the-art practice rooms that were constructed by the Wenger Corp. Before the renovation, the practice rooms were not well soundproofed, making it difficult for students to focus on their own playing.
The new rooms keep the noise contained much better, and there now is a way for students to change the reverberation in one of the rooms.
The system is called Virtual Acoustic Environment. It is used to make it sound like the students are in an auditorium, cathedral or other performance areas. Students now also have the capability to record themselves and play it back.
“It’s kind of nice to take pride knowing this is my school and that it looks this great,” said Brandon Bennett, a psychology major. “It’s really state-of-the-art stuff, and a lot of big schools and big universities don’t necessarily have all of this because their buildings are older and they don’t have all the technology that we have, so it’s kind of nice from a pride aspect that I get to go to school here.”
The largest project was the band hall. Before the renovations, the stairs and ramp were steep, making them dangerous. Water ran down the wall from a leak in the ceiling. The band hall now is handicap-accessible and up to code as well as the floor being retiled and raised by four feet.
The building has new cabinets to lock up instruments owned by the college, and a new storage room was built for students’ percussion and jazz instruments. Also available are storage lockers where students can lock up their instruments and keep them safe.
The architects were able to construct a lounge by downsizing the size of the music lab. Students now have a place where they can go to relax. In the lounge is a large display case where Weber plans to display awards and announce music department events.
“We wanted a place for students to be able to congregate outside of a classroom, and we were able to figure out a lounge,” Rauscher said.
AC also has a recording studio that is in the process of being set up. Faculty members plan to add a Pro-Tools Certification Program to their list of certificates. In addition to all the changes, a few pieces of original art hang on the walls around the music building.
“It’s always been my dream that when you walk in the music building, you feel like you’re walking into a gallery of art that is inspirational and exciting,” Weber said.
Weber said he hopes to display more original works of art created by students and faculty.