A Glimpse into L'Ville's New Recording Studio

Features  /  by Sahil Malhotra '19  /  October 13, 2017

Lawrenceville, a community of over 800 students and nearly as many faculty and staff, bounds with creative energy. Some students choose to express their creativity through their visual artwork, while others act and author plays for Winterfest. Likewise, the creativity that Lawrenceville’s songwriters and musicians possess has a new abode: Lawrenceville’s new recording studio on the second floor of the Clark Music Center.

Several years ago, the space that is now the recording studio used to be a keyboard lab. However, the lab slowly grew into disuse; it became unnecessary when a computer lab was built in Pop Hall. In an attempt to modernize and update the music facilities at Lawrenceville, the music department decided to convert the space into a fully-outfitted recording studio that began operating two years ago.

The Lawrenceville Music Department partnered with the Facilities Department to create a design for the studio. After funding was arranged, the studio was built primarily over a single spring break; however, additional ductwork polishing took another six months to complete. According to Director of Instrumental Studies Keith Roeckle, the most difficult challenge during the construction process was building a window to separate the recording software from the soundbooth. To construct the window, the Music Department received assistance from John Baker, a recording engineer who had collaborated with Lawrenceville in the past. The Music Department eventually completed the window to Mr. Baker’s specifications. Furthermore, they were able to reuse older equipment, including microphones and a digital/manual hybrid soundboard, allowing some hardware originally from the computer lab to be preserved and repurposed.

Roeckle noted that the recording studio is currently not very busy, as the school year has only begun. However, he expects it to be used more frequently as the year progresses. He noted that some students have requested to use the studio to record music supplements for colleges, while others have used it to record original songs.

“We’re hoping that students can go [into the recording studio] and explore,” Roeckle said. “There’s this push at Lawrenceville and other places right now to have these maker spaces, mostly in visual arts and robotics and things like that—really, this is our version of a maker space.” he added.

To Alex Mauro ’18, the studio is a place where he and his friends can tape their songs. Mauro first began working in the recording studio during his III Form year, when it first opened to the Lawrenceville community. After Roeckle taught him how to use the studio, Mauro went to work. His first project was a cover of “Hallelujah”: he played guitar, Lexi Grossman ’17 sang, and Allison Huang ’17 accompanied them on the piano. Now, he goes to the studio once every week, where he either works on a project, edits his past recordings, or experiments. Mauro said, “I’ll sit in there for about an hour or two. [...] It’s kind of like an escape to me.”

Lawrenceville also teaches students taking certain music courses how to operate the studio. Starting with the class of ’19, students taking the 200-level course Foundations of Music have worked on several recording projects throughout the year. These projects are instructional in nature; they are designed to introduce students to the basics of using the studio.

Furthermore, Roeckle invited the Lawrenceville community to use the studio in an appropriate manner. “It’s there to be used, as long as it’s not abused,” he said. As a result of the recording projects added to the music theory-based Foundations of Music course, musicians at Lawrenceville can how build practical skills to succeed in music in the digital era.

Continuing with his hopes of modernizing music at Lawrenceville, Roeckle hopes to work with John Baker to make changes to the speaker system in Dresdner Hall and Behr Hall, the two concert halls in the Clark Music Center. With the addition of Bluetooth connectivity to the speakers, musicians will be able to stream music from their phones without having to deal with a complicated tangle of cables.