Campus LifeNews

Music department urges students to take better care of equipment following Coke spill in piano

A soft drink spilled inside a grand piano in the Fine Arts Building has the chair of the music department urging students to take better care of the practice equipment.

“Not only is this a waste of time for us to clean, but it is an abuse of an extremely expensive tool, potentially damaging the instrument beyond repair,” said a January 8th email from William Street, chair of the music department, which was sent to all music undergraduates. Despite the damage from the Coke, the piano was successfully cleaned.

In his email, Street reminded students about food and drink policies surrounding the music practice rooms, and that “nothing goes on the pianos except for music.” His message added that the abuse of such equipment is counterproductive to the department’s fundraising efforts and the work they put into replacing outdated equipment, adding that the cheapest grand piano costs $36,000.

“It breaks my heart to that we are out in the community trying to raise funds to improve and replace pianos and equipment around the department, while some of you have so little regard for their care and maintenance,” he said.

According to a university website, the music department has 18 general practice rooms, six grand piano practice rooms, one graduate student grand piano room, one percussion room, one harp/organ room, and an organ/chamber music room.  

In an interview with The Gateway, Street said the incident involving the coke in the piano happened around November, and that he included the incident in his email to students in order to get people to pay attention to the problem.

“It’s pretty shocking, and I put it there for it’s shock value,” he said. “And when I said $36,000, that’s cheap. The last grand piano we got was $250,000 so we don’t want those kinds of things to happen, ever.”

In addition to the incident with the spilled cola, Street added that the general cleanliness of practice rooms has been another issue, with garbage being left on the floor and food crumbs being left on piano keys being some of the things he’s been informed of by the building’s staff.

The Gateway reached out to the Music Students’ Association, but they declined to comment.

Street’s concerns about the music equipment are shared by some students in the department. Thomas LaGrange, a fourth-year music performance student, said that Street’s email was “the appropriate way to deal with it,” especially considering the four per cent budget cut that was made across all faculties last year.

“It is an important issue because we’ve had other issues in the past with dirty practice rooms,” he said. “A lot of students, myself included, complain a lot about the equipment that we have… If we want new equipment, we need to be taking care of the ones that we have.”

LaGrange added that he’s also seen messes in practice rooms, such as finding A&W bags and water bottles lying around, as well as students not locking the doors once they’re done using the equipment, which is a security risk.

“Most of us kind of just scoff at how ridiculous the situation is, because we want this this new stuff, but we’re wrecking the things that we already have. And this is also the actions of one student… it doesn’t represent all of us.”

However, not everyone agrees with Street’s message. Matt Meeker, a third-year music education student, believes the department should be dealing with other problems first, such as updating the music curriculum.

“I think that out of all the list of problems facing the department, garbage is at the very bottom of the list,” Meeker said. “I cannot think of a lower priority problem than that.”

Nathan Fung

Nathan Fung is a sixth-year political science student and The Gateway's news editor for the 2018-19 year. He can usually be found in the Gateway office, turning coffee into copy.

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