Murray purchases new keyboard for a cappella groups

After members of Macalester’s a cappella groups brought concerns that the Music Department was treating them unfairly to Provost Kathy Murray, she allocated money from the president’s budget to purchase a new piano for use in their rehearsals.

James Lindgren ’15, a member of Scotch Tape, said he and Salima Seale ’14, another Scotch Tape member, reached out to Murray last semester because they felt that a cappella groups did not have equal access to many of the Music Department’s resources.

“They struggled to get rehearsal time in the concert hall,” Murray said.

Lindgren added that, at the time of the meeting, he had hoped Murray would be able to “negotiate to get us a little time in that hall.”

After the music building renovation was completed in 2012, time was needed for different musical groups “to learn about how the hall would function” because “there are lots of demands on that space,” Murray said. In addition to a cappella groups having limited access to the Mairs Concert Hall, pianos in the building are kept locked up for safety reasons and are therefore often inaccessible.

Murray’s solution was to invest in another piano for the upper level of the Campus Center.

“We mentioned that there was a piano in the Campus Center but it had not been tuned in a while. [Kathy] said she would look into it,” Seale wrote in an email. “We came back for our second rehearsal with Scotch Tape this semester and voila! There was a keyboard to replace the old, out-of-tune piano.”

“It was entirely productive,” Lindgren said of the meeting with Murray, who also worked to get campus security guards keys to access music building pianos, so that a cappella groups can use them.

The new piano, a KAWAI electric keyboard from Schmitt Music, was delivered about two weeks ago and cost around $2,300. The price “would be way too big for an a cappella group,” Murray said. The money came from the President’s budget instead.

“When it’s possible to do something to help that many students for that little amount of money, that’s what we should do,” Murray said.

“It will be used A LOT!” Seale wrote. “There are five groups that all use that keyboard.”

Discussions about getting a cappella groups more time in the Concert Hall will be ongoing.

“We have musical training, we know what we’re doing … [the Music department was] just being unreasonably stubborn and not acting professionally with us,” Lindgren said. “We deserve as much respect as any group.”