By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
In the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, Baylor installed 16 tent structures around campus to allow for more space to follow social distancing guidelines. Tents were divided between the dining halls, law school, Beauchamp Athletics Nutrition Center and the Glennis McCrary Music Building.
Jason Cook, vice president of marketing and communications and chief marketing officer, said the tents offered a solution to reduce population density in buildings.
“We needed to increase the square footage on our campus,” Cook said. “Specifically, the school of music needed a place to practice and [we needed] more space for the law school’s mock courtroom. We simply needed more building space to comply with social distancing measures.”
Steve Dailey, assistant director of bands, said the open-air tents “have been an extremely helpful addition to our ability to safely resume music making together.”
He said the tents have been used primarily for individual student and chamber ensemble practices of up to six musicians. The leadership retreat for the Baylor University Golden Wave Band, which was about 60 people, was also able to meet in the tents the majority of the time.
The choral singers who work with Dr. Lynne Gackle, director of choral activities, practice outside of Waco Hall if they are outdoors, Gackle said. The instrumental ensembles are generally meant to practice in the tents, she said, and could perform in them too.
Round Rock senior Florianne Binoya is the clarinet section leader in the Golden Wave Band. She said that some music majors can use the tents, but woodwind instruments, such as clarinets, aren’t supposed to be brought outside.
“So, typically, if we need to practice, we just find a practice room, but there can only be one per practice room, and I don’t personally use the tents for practicing really,” Binoya said.
They had some performances outside in the open at the beginning of the semester, but she said she could barely hear the other musician 6 feet in front of her.
“The listening environment is a lot different. It doesn’t resonate, and it makes it hard to hear each other,” Binoya said. “We’re just trying to work with what we can, honestly.”
Master’s candidate Matthew Otte said he warms up with the Trumpet Studio several times a week under the tents. He said he doesn’t necessarily use the tents for school rehearsal, just practicing in general, but doesn’t mind it.
“It’s been okay. I’ve always liked practicing outside,” Otte said. “So on weekends I usually spend a couple hours on Saturday and a couple hours on Sunday just playing out there by myself, or with one or two other people. And it’s actually kind of nice to be honest.”
Otte said he did think it would be challenging to rehearse in a large ensemble outside in the tents, but hasn’t been asked to do that. He said for the most part they are inside and spread out.
However, Otte said some ensembles may be more at a disadvantage trying to hear each other in the tents.
“I’m sure it would depend on the actual ensemble that was using them. I think when you have a mixed ensemble with brass, woodwinds and strings, if you’re going to try to rehearse an orchestra, that would be challenging,” Otte said.
Dailey said the tents are provided for the safety of students and so that they feel comfortable in school.
“Creativity and artistic excellence cannot thrive in an environment where the musicians’ primary concern is their well-being,” Dailey said. “Any extra tool in our toolbox to not only keep our students safe, but make them certain of their own safety allows us to focus on the important things; namely our growth and our collaborations with one another.”