Friday, May 22, 2015

Solebury School dedicates $400,000 Music Center

Two studios and three smaller rooms provide spaces for musicians to practice and rehearse.

Solebury School dedicates $400,000 Music Center

Blog Image
Greg Lipscomb, director of the Universal Music Ensemble, works with Veronica Fitton of Doylestown in the Solebury School’s new Music Center. (Beverly Berkeley/Solebury School)

The Solebury School dedicated its $400,000 Music Center on Wednesday, opening its two studios and three practice rooms to more than 60 alumni and other supporters.

"This music center is a dream come true for Solebury," violin virtuoso and Solebury School graduate Elizabeth Pitcairn said in a statement. "As a professional musician, I am thrilled to see it come to fruition.”

The 2,000-square-foot center, which opened earlier this month, provides practice and rehearsal space primarily for students who play instruments. The building is close to the Performing Arts Center, where the chorus, jazz roots ensemble and universal music ensemble entertained last night’s guests.

The two large studios are separated by a locked, climate-controlled storage room for instruments. The three smaller practice rooms can each accommodate one to three musicians. Each studio and practice room has a piano or keyboard.

The studios and classrooms are connected by a custom-designed audio support system. There is an integrated audio recorder to review and critique rehearsals and lessons.

"I’ve always felt that music was an important part of so many of our students’ school experience,  and for some, it was the best part of their day," said Erika Bonner,  head of the Art Department. "The quality of these music classrooms now reflects the quality of our program."

The center made use of a building that had housed the school’s maintenance department. Renovations included installation of a white roof, insulation, a heating and air-conditioning system, sensor controls for lighting, and “on demand” hot-water equipment.

Camera security covers the instrument storage room and both entrances, and the building has full access for the handicapped.

"The new Music Center has already become the heart of the music program on campus," said chorus director Phyllis Arnold.

The school’s music department offers a wide range of courses, including Chorus, Universal Music Ensemble, Jazz Roots Ensemble, and Rock Band. Electives include Song Writing; Music: That Universal Language;  Indie Music and How it is Reshaping the Music World; Music of the 1960s; and the Greatest Bands of All Time.

Private music lessons are also offered to students

"There are so many wonderful aspects to having this space," said Cathy Block, director of the Jazz Roots Ensemble. "It sends the message to the community and anyone considering Solebury, that we care and are serious about our music program. For our current students, I know it gives them a sense of pride in their school."

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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