A Sound Investment

Two new music classrooms at Havergal’s Junior School are currently under construction, which when complete, will double the space available for both instrumental and vocal learning. The development will not only match the music facilities of the Upper School, but will also provide a purpose-built environment to enhance programming and opportunities for musical discovery.

“We previously had one classroom with two practise rooms, but the new spaces will feature two classrooms, one for vocal and one for instrumental music, along with dedicated instrument storage and practise rooms,” explains Facilities Director Lisa Massie. “The new design will have double the square footage of our former music space, better sound attenuation and help make the classrooms feel more open and tidy.”

In the current music classroom, all instruments are stored in the same room, necessitating setup and break down when switching between instrumental and vocal sessions. The Music program’s multicultural collection has grown over the years to include a full set of tone chimes, steel pan drums, Brazilian samba drums, ukuleles as well as Orff instruments and auxiliary percussion equipment, says Music Teacher and Integrated Arts Coordinator Rachel Read. “It will be amazing to have the facilities to properly store and use these wonderful instruments,” she says. “They will be easier for students to access and will safeguard our investment in the equipment.”

Felt wall panels for acoustic insulation will better absorb any echo and help soundproof the rooms from external noise. The vocal classroom will also open space to allow for the movement activities that are part of the program. Small group instruction with visiting artists will be possible in a quieter atmosphere conducive to individualized interactions.

“I am excited to have a space devoted to vocal and choral music that is acoustically sound and purposeful,” says Vocal Music Teacher Jeff MacLean.

Floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, which have already been piloted in the kindergarten classrooms, will be installed to aid in teaching written music, along with an overhead projector that can display images and videos. This exciting new element will eventually be rolled out for all of the Junior School classrooms, Massie says.

Designed by architecture firm Diamond Schmitt Architects, the new music rooms will be located near the Visual Arts classroom and the STEM lab, fostering interdisciplinary cross-pollination. “The arts are a natural place for this kind of collaboration to occur,” says Read. “Bringing interdisciplinary learning into an elementary classroom allows for rich possibilities in all subject areas.”

Modern, bright and purpose-built, the new music spaces are a much-anticipated enhancement to a program that continually seeks to expose students to new ideas and musical concepts from around the world.

“Rachel and I are very proud of the program we have been able to create, develop and refine over the past seven years,” says MacLean. “We know we need spaces that allow for these growing and evolving choral and instrumental programs. Our dreams for our music programs really are limitless, thanks to these wonderful new spaces.”