Practice Rooms

30 Nov in music, music education, Music Technology, Technology

I remember in college fighting over different practice rooms in the fine arts building. This was never a perfect system, in fact, it was downright aweful. Some people would park themselves in a practice room for hours at a time. At other times you would have to fight with brass groups or just that annoying trumpeter practicing the same high note for 2 hours straight. Of course there were coveted rooms. Not necessarily because there was anything all that special, but it varied for the reasons. In some cases it was because the ambiance of a room was just perfect, for other rooms it was because the piano had some resemblance of being in tune and I tended towards rooms with slightly better acoustics. My special room was FA 137. Part of the reason was that it was my voice teachers office doubled as a practice room.  Another good reason was his cool ambiance, lamp lighting rather than harsh overhead lights. But a big part was the acoustics. Smaller, dead, practice rooms tended to cause me to over-blow my voice. I could practice for hours in FA 137, but have to finish in an hour in other rooms. Of course even as good as FA 137 proved to be nothing could prepare you for the main performance hall, the War Memorial Chapel. This was an all brick/wood room with hard seats and narrow walls. The voice would jump down the hall and bounce back in the performers face. It was a dream to sing in, but typical preparation left you with at best 3 or 4 practice rehearsals in the hall before a big recital. So, what I'm trying to say, is that even the best practice rooms weren't really that great.

It seems that Boston University has listened to music student woes and come up with an interesting solution with an interesting piece of technology. Not only are the rooms sound proof, this is essential to a good practice room, but they are equipped with special technology to emulate different performance venues upon the push of a button. The video I linked to shows it in action. It is quite impressive to say the least. This would have been a dream for me. I could have simulated the War Memorial Chapel during every rehearsal. The sound feedback would have helped to keep me from over singing in an otherwise dead room. Of course this all came at a pretty steep price as well. The details of the technology are sparse, but to hear her change from the natural room to "Cathedral" is quite surreal.