By Mariel Gousios
Williamsville East’s music wing renovations started in 2018 and they’re finally done. With the start of the new year, musicians are able to enjoy all of the benefits from the extra space and renovated rooms. But how successfully are the renovations working for the music wing?
The East music teachers (current and recently retired) were involved in the design of the new music wing so the area is tailored to the teachers. The division of the space, placement of the doors, size of the practice rooms, and more were decided by them. Because of this, any concerns they had or preferences were listened to, so the rooms should be very close to how they wanted them to be. It seems to have worked out well because Ms. Reilly, East’s Chorus teacher, said students “were awed… they loved it… It’s such a difference between this and our old room.” Before the renovations, the music wing had cramped practice rooms, instruments stored in the hallways, and no dressing rooms. Now, there’s plenty of space to store instruments and for students to play in sound-proof practice rooms. The president of the philharmonic orchestra, Samantha Fitzpatrick, said she was excited to see it for the first time because “We haven’t had our own room for orchestra.” Adding the extra room for orchestra made lots of students feel more appreciated and enthusiastic to show up to practice. However, the renovation doesn’t just make the space look better, it functions better now, too.
When asked if the renovations made teaching easier, Ms. Ieada, the Orchestra teacher, responded with a very enthusiastic “YESSSSSS!”. She continued with, “the timing of this new wing is ideal. We are emerging from a pandemic, where many students have not been in the physical building for up to 18 months. To be in a beautiful new space, with many smiling faces in the seats, at the beginning of this school year is truly phenomenal.” The extra rooms should also help students stay socially distanced during a pandemic. Although there hasn’t been a large increase in students joining music groups, the music teachers are hoping that the new space will make more students enroll if the pandemic infection rates lower. From the start of COVID-19, there was a loss in students who participated in music at school. Even though the numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels, the renovation of the music wing may encourage others to join.
The music wing seems to be a huge success, but there are still some parts that were left out of the renovations, namely the stage. Williamsville East’s stage is the smallest of all of the Williamsville school districts, and some were hoping it would be included with the renovations. Ms. Ieda said, “To enlarge the stage, we would need to extend the back wall toward the bus loop. This did not happen in this project, but we are content with our stage for now.” Looking forward to the renovations should help the students and teachers go back to doing what they love, playing music and performing with others.