Scaling Barnard’s Music Practice Rooms

What students think of Sulzberger’s music rooms.

Photography by Samantha Candelo-Ortegon

Walking into the basement of Sulzberger, one is met with white concrete and long hallways. Though some deem it as “spooky,” Barnard students’ love for music surmounts the daunting journey to the music practice rooms in order to hone their musical skills.  

“It’s a good, private space to be able to practice,” said Alexandra Conney, a Barnard first-year. “I’m taking piano and voice lessons at Barnard/Columbia so it’s good to have a spot to cultivate what I’m trying to do and get better at my pieces.” 

While college is a time to pursue new interests, it is still important for students to continue pursuing old passions and hobbies – especially those that bring them comfort and enjoyment. That’s made complicated by shared living spaces – a factor that musicians and singers know all too well. Luckily, Barnard’s music practice rooms serve as a space for students to hone their musical talents in private. 

Located in the basement of Sulzberger Hall, students can reserve a music room to use the provided pianos or bring their own personal instruments. Students must sign up on the housing portal to reserve a room for a  time slot of 55 minutes. After reserving the room, students go to the security attendant in the Sulzberger lobby to receive a key, and then they are set to head down to the basement and begin practicing. 

Cooney has played piano for over 15 years and has sung since she was nine. In addition to taking a one-credit piano class, Cooney also sings with the Barnard Columbia Chorus and Chamber Choir. She said she has always been able to secure a reservation, even at the last minute. 

Cooney says she’s heard that there are other pianos across the street in the basement of Columbia’s Shapiro Hall. “But I honestly have no clue where that is,” she said. “So, I am very glad that these music practice rooms are here and they’re so close by and convenient.”

Non-music majors can use the rooms up to five times a week while declared music majors may reserve the room up to ten times a week. Cooney, who hasn’t yet declared her major, uses the practice rooms around four to five times a week. 

Karina Valley, a first-year student, who has been playing piano since she was nine, was initially daunted by the reservation process. But she quickly learned it was easy and efficient. 

“I would say it’s been pretty simple,” Valley said. “I haven’t had any difficulty and there’s always been a time available for me.”

Valley, who is not a music major, said she plans on using the music rooms once a week. She could see herself using them more, though she has noticed the thin walls that separate the practice spaces.  

“There was someone else practicing at the same time I was, but they were practicing on a louder instrument,” she said. “Other than that, it was really nice – there was nothing wrong with the piano or anything.” 

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