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  • Writer's pictureHANNA BABEK

Yamawaki “Music Lab” in development for students

Paige Mesropian and Ken Calhoun rehearse for their performance at Empty Bowls. Photo by Hanna Babek

Since the fall, a group of students, led by professor and Interim Dean of the School of Communications and the Arts Ken Calhoun, have been working to create a space for student musicians to gather and connect.

The project has taken root in an empty classroom in the basement of Yamawaki Art and Cultural Center. Prior to the pandemic, it was used for music classes and as a rehearsal space, but has remained mostly untouched since. Now, it is being transformed into a place for musicians to record and jam.

Calhoun says the room has the potential to connect the currently distant music community on campus with the opportunity to serve as a focal point for the musicians to be drawn to and find each other through.

“If the material is good, then there's no reason to think that stuff our students create in that room can't be a viable product, you know. So that's what we're looking for and really to make sure that this building is the center point for creativity and the arts on campus,” said Calhoun.

He was initially approached by student Carter Phillips, who was looking to create a space such as this one. Calhoun and Phillips were soon joined by sophomore graphic design major Paige Mesropian and senior communications major Joshua Varghese, also known as Joshua Sweet. Mesropian and Sweet are two of campus’s resident musicians, and regulars to the music lab.

As of right now, the room contains a drum set, keyboard, and other equipment that Calhoun refers to as “outdated.” He hopes to expand resources to include recording equipment. Next semester, a Rock Workshop course (MUS210X) taught by touring musician Flynn Cohen will be offered in the lab from 5-7:30 p.m. on Mondays.

Without a current space for musicians to gather, some have mixed feelings on the sense of community they experience.

Sweet says he has experienced some difficulties as a musician on campus. In regards to the attitudes of those around him, he says, “They don’t want to see people around them succeed. They all have such big dreams and no motivation, so when they see that someone has both they want to destroy it.”

However, Sweet also credits Lasell with the opportunity for his first concert. He believes the music lab will help students develop their artistry and it is a chance to “Revolutionize the musical aspect of this school.”

Mesropian has been releasing original music since before she became a Laser, and says coming to college has allowed her to experience music in a different light.

“I’ve been meeting people that also share that same passion. Playing, being able to play with other people, it brings people together, helps form connections.”

She says her peers have supported her as she’s continued to release music. Following the release of a new song last year, she says, “I just posted about it, and some people walked up to me and were like, ‘Oh, I heard your song, it's so cool’ and all this stuff. It was a cool community feeling. It was really awesome.”

Calhoun hopes the addition of the music lab will help musicians form a stronger presence and community on campus. “We've had bands come out of here before, but it always seems like it's kind of just a thing that happens very organically and almost accidentally, so we want to help it along, you know,” he says.

“I think being a musician in a college setting is exciting and cool because it gives you a kind of outlet for creativity, a way to make friends, a way to connect.” says Calhoun

Calhoun believes this is another opportunity to help students succeed, saying, “If they have resources here that support them, not just a hobby but really a pathway to their dreams, you know, then we should be able to provide that.”


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