The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Million dollar donation made to Meadows

Outstanding donations seem to be a pleasant trend for Meadows School of the Arts. In addition to benefiting last March from a gift of $33 million given by The Meadows Foundation, renovations have been made as a result of another generous contribution.

SMU alumna Jeanne Roach Johnson’s recent $1 million donation financed the founding of the Jeanne Johnson Piano Guest Artists Endowment Fund and the remodeling of the practice rooms located in the Owens Arts Center, which opened for use by Meadows students Aug. 21.

The $1 million donation, Johnson’s second donation in two years, aims to assist music majors prepare for their performances. The endowment was divided in half with $500,000 designated to the establishment of the Artists Endowment Fund, and $500,000 designated to renovating the Meadows practice room area.

The renovation of the practice rooms directly benefits the music program and music majors. The bustle in the Owens basement halls makes it clear the practice room area is significant to Meadows. The basement, once deemed a dungeon area with its dim lighting and old flooring, now welcomes musicians to practice.

The improvements are immediately noticeable as the bright halls stand out from the older portions of the Arts Center basement floor, and more than just the aesthetic improvements, the feeling of the practice hall has improved.

The walls were repainted, and new lighting, new floors and new doors were installed to improve appearance and create a more inviting environment; sound absorbers and mirrors were added to every room, and steps have been taken to improve acoustics, ventilation and security.

Senior Jed Maus, president of the Union of Music Students, said the improved ventilation is the greatest renovation to the practice hall. Students were previously subject to inconsistent room temperatures, which were especially detrimental to comfort level during practice in the summer, but with the improved ventilation system, music majors can breathe easier and enjoy a healthier environment.

The improvement in sound isolation is also essential to productive practice sessions. Because of the small distance between each practice room, good soundproofing enables musicians to avoid distractions and better focus on their work.

Improvements have been made to the security of the practice hall as students will soon have to use their SMU ID to enter, and only students enrolled in the music program or otherwise cleared by administration will be permitted access to the hall.

Because of music majors’ demanding practice schedules, renovations to a location they spend most of their time are greatly appreciated. “We spend the majority of our day in the practice rooms. It’s what we do-practice. So it’s really nice that we can spend our time in a more beautiful space,” said sophomore music performance major Lucy Duke.

Not only do the renovations benefit current SMU students, but they also benefit the overall Meadows image and recruiting efforts.

Sophomore music performance major Elizabeth Parker explains the renovated practice area is “a draw when people come to audition, because now not only does Rice University have top notch rooms, as well as other universities, but so does SMU.”

Samuel Holland, the division of music’s associate director for academic affairs, explains the practice rooms now compare favorably to practice rooms of universities across the nation. Previously avoided tours of the practice area are now proudly given to visitors of SMU.

The overall impact of the complete renovation is long-term with every change expected to last a lifetime of 10 to 20 years. Holland explains the donation was used in the most effective manner. “The gift makes a really big difference in the quality of life of every music student that walks through the door and every music student that ever will.”

President of the Union of Music Students Maus agreed that every renovation to the practice rooms is of considerable importance and influence. “It’s like I told Mrs. Johnson, all of the music heard in the concert halls starts in the practice rooms, so there is not a more fitting way to impact Meadows and the music of SMU.”


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