For PCHS band, more space would be a sweet tune
The proposed improvements to classrooms for the drama, arts and music programs haven’t drawn as much attention as some of the more controversial pieces of the Park City School District’s $56 million bond.
It remains unclear whether voters are going to say yes to the bond, but members of the Park City High School band programs say that regardless of what happens on Election Day, improvements to their classrooms would be music to their ears.
Bret Hughes, director of percussion for the high school, said that, with about 300 students in band, the program has simply outgrown its current space.
"When this facility was built, there was a band program and there was a choir program," he said. "There was no orchestra, there was no percussion, there was a limited jazz program. But this facility was really built for ninth- through 12th-grade band and choir in the early- or mid-1990s. And since then, our program has just grown. We’ve literally outgrown the space."
Chris Taylor, director of bands, said one of the primary constraints is limited practice space. Students in the program are eager to hone their craft, but students are often forced to practice in the hallways. And when they are lucky enough to claim one of the five practice spaces, it can interfere with classes going on nearby.
"We have kids that have parent release because they want practice time," Taylor said. "But if there’s a class going on and they’re in one of the practice rooms, it’s actually quite disturbing to the class to have that noise going on."
And that brings up another downfall of the current music space — it’s not very soundproof. Classes are often held simultaneously in both music classrooms — which are separated only by a small office — and that presents major problems, Taylor said.
"I’ll have a class in one room, and drumline rehearsal will be going on in the other classroom," he said. "We’re trying to work on something slow and soft, and we’re hearing the drums beating. It’s hard to build in the nuance of what you’re trying to do."
Molly Hanrahan, a junior in the band program, said the students are also hopeful the space gets remodeled.
"It’s manageable, but it’s always crazy and hectic," she said. "You’re always climbing on top of people, and there are instrument cases everywhere. It’s really rough to find space. We’re cramped in multiple areas, and the storage room is just crazy. It’s tough in here, so it would be awesome to have a bigger, better space."
Bill Humbert, one of the leaders of the group opposing the school district’s bond, said many who don’t support the bond agree that the music program and other specialty classes need improved facilities. They believe the bond should be scrapped and the community should provide input to help find other solutions.
"I don’t have any problem whatsoever if, let’s say this bond is voted down, and the community got together and said, "The band does not have a place to practice, so let’s figure it out,’" he said. "I’ve never opposed arts space, and I understand the value of the different kinds of performing arts."
Taylor and Hughes said that, despite the lack of space, the program continues to be one of the most successful in Utah. But better facilities are crucial if they are to build the program into a national competitor.
"We’re good, and we can make anything work," Taylor said. "Is it ideal? No. What we would like to do, though, is we have a goal of making this program not good for Park City, not good for Utah. We want it to be a beacon for the country. Something that people go, ‘We want to build a program like that.’ And you start looking at facilities in places like Texas and Indiana, this is a very small band hall compared to them."
Early voting on the bond runs through Oct. 30, with Election Day set for Nov. 3. To vote early, a resident had to be registered by Oct. 19. According to the Park City School District’s voter information pamphlet, early voting will take place at the Marsac building and the Sheldon Richins Building, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. each week day. All precincts within the school district are eligible to cast ballots at either location. To vote on Election Day, residents must register in-person by Oct. 26 or online by Oct. 27.
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