Needs met with 19 pianos

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  • The university received 19 new pianos in September for use throughout campus.
  • Practice rooms are available in every residence hall and in the Varsity Theatre.
  • The university struck a deal with a music foundation to receive the pianos free of charge.
  • In exchange, the university will host a piano sale on campus each spring for the next five years.

Students who want to hone their piano skills now have that opportunity on campus, whether that means plunking out "Chopsticks" or tackling Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."

As reported in an October 2007 edition of the Tribune, students had called for better quality pianos and more practice space on campus. The September arrival of 19 new pianos coincides with the creation of practice space in every residence hall and in the basement of the Varsity Theatre.

Every residence hall has a new piano and at least one dedicated practice room available for students to play their own instruments, said Erik Janners, director of music.

He said the university has successfully met student needs.

"We've done a great job, given the time and resources available to work on the issue," Janners said.

In the Varsity's basement, five practice rooms are available to students. Janners said students interested in using the rooms should contact him.

The Varsity has five new pianos. The Alumni Memorial Union houses two new pianos. There are also new pianos in the Weasler Auditorium, the Helfaer Theatre and Marquette Hall room 100, Janners said.

The pianos are made by the Tennessee-based Pramberger Pianos, founded by German piano maker Joseph Pramberger. Janners said the company is not as well known, but the instruments are high quality.

Janners has worked with University Advancement to strike a five-year contract for the pianos with the Rockley Piano Foundation. The university would like to continue the partnership after the contract is up, Janners said.

In the agreement, the foundation will provide the pianos free of charge if the university maintains their condition and keeps them tuned, Janners said. In return, the university will host a piano sale for the foundation on campus. That's set to take place in May and continue for the next five years.

The university will also provide the foundation with a mailing list of alumni for solicitation of the piano sale. The list will likely include former band members as well as people living close to the university, Janners said.

The spring sale will include the 19 new pianos brought to campus last month. The university will receive new pianos every year—even if the used pianos don't sell, Janners said.

"It's a great way to get $200,000 worth of pianos for use on campus that we would have had no way of purchasing," Janners said.

While the university has made available new pianos and more practice space, students can now take a music minor, initiated this semester by the College of Communication.

Andrew Mountin, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said the recent improvements show the university is serious about giving students the opportunities and materials needed to pursue music on campus.

"It's wonderful that Marquette is encouraging people to pursue music as a discipline and recognizes it as a discipline," said Mountin, who is taking the music minor. "Understanding music is so important. I challenge anyone who disagrees to imagine life without music."

Mountin plays piano for the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and for certain Campus Ministry masses. He has utilized the new piano in Mashuda Hall as well as the pianos in the Varsity.

Mountin said the new pianos are in good shape and are in tune, which is a welcome change from last year.

Samantha Toigo, a senior in the College of Business Administration, struggled to find available practice space on campus last year. She was so frustrated about the lack of readily available pianos that she bought an electric keyboard.

She said the university has met student needs, but it still has a long way to go. Her suggestions include expanding the music faculty and offering individual musical instruction for credit.

Toigo said she knows students who transferred out of Marquette—or never came here in the beginning—because it did not have a music program.

"The better (Marquette's music program) gets, the more students we can attract to the university," Toigo said.