Author: Bart Miltenberger, C’97
Many moons ago (1993-1997), when I was an undergrad here at Penn, I played trumpet in the jazz ensemble as well as in a few other extracurricular bands. I wasn’t all that serious about playing music back then – I did it just for fun. Because of my novice status though, I often wished I had a place to practice. But back then, Penn didn’t have a lot of space for practice. Oh, yes, there was a music building, and there were three practice rooms in its basement, but those rooms were beyond creepy (roaches, cobwebs, sewage pipes) and acoustically disastrous. Sometimes, I resorted to finding a boiler room in a dorm to get in my trumpet-practicing done. Needless to say, I didn’t get around to it all that much, and hence, I didn’t really improve.
Now, things are much different on campus. There are actual undergraduate music majors (in my time, most of the music majors focused on composition versus a particular instrument), and many of them are playing way above the level I ever achieved as a student. And perhaps most importantly, since the Music Building has been renovated (!), there are multiple places for students to get in the hours of practiced needed to reach that higher level of skill.
There are now five practice rooms with regularly-tuned Yamaha upright pianos. This is one my favorite one of those to play in:
This room was a gift made in part by my old boss, former Alumni Relations AVP, Bob Alig. The room itself was dedicated in honor of Paul Williams, the former president of Penn Alumni. Thanks for the nice room guys!
Here’s a look inside the room:
If the rooms at the Music Building are in use, two more practice rooms are available on the fourth floor of the renovated Fisher-Bennett Hall. And, if you’re really lucky, the Rose Recital Hall (also located on the fourth floor of Fisher-Bennett) will be available and you can practice your trumpet in a fabulous, large, and acoustically-pleasant room. If it’s unlocked, there is a wonderful Steinway grand piano in the Recital Hall.
If that room is taken up by classes, there is always the option of the ten practice rooms in the basement of Irvine Auditorium. Still another option is signing out a practice room at Platt Performing Arts House. The rooms there are multipurpose. You might be practicing in a room that was just used for a dance lesson or an Indian music ensemble.
Again, all of these practice spaces at Penn are relatively new. The University has certainly made a commitment to the arts at Penn. This is great for the whole Penn community.
Now. There’s a trumpet waiting to be practiced. I recommend starting with long tones: