Wayland dedicates music lab

PLAINVIEW - Dr. Ann Stutes will proudly admit that she is scared of technology. Six years ago, when she was hired to teach in Wayland Baptist University's Department of Music, one of her job duties was to initiate a music technology program.

"I was so excited about teaching at Wayland that I said, 'Yes.' Then I cried all the way home," Stutes said.

Now the Chairperson of the Division of Fine Arts, Dr. Stutes was addressing a group of about 40 who gathered to dedicate the Jones-Franklin Music Technology Lab in the south wing of the Harral Arts Complex.

The state-of-the-art lab was made possible by anonymous donations along with the Helen Jones Foundation and the James and Yvonne Franklin family. The lab was furnished by SoundTree, the education division of Korg USA, Inc.

"They are the best at what they do," Stutes said. "From the very beginning, we as music faculty had sense enough to realize we needed to follow their lead."

The music lab, complete with 15 keyboard stations and an instructor's station, was installed this summer. It contains state-of-the-art keyboards and computer systems that run through the instructor's station. The keyboards allow the instructor to teach and observe all of the classroom's keyboard workstations either as a group or individually through a digital connection. The keyboard is a full 88-key digital piano that, according to Wayland's piano artist in residence Mark Pair, ".plays like a Steinway."

With the numerous capabilities of the new lab, Stutes said it will take a while for the faculty and students to learn how to best utilize the equipment.

"Even now we don't understand its full potential," she said. "It takes time to learn how to use it and we have to be brave enough to experiment. We have student assistants who know quite a bit more than we do. They are helping us and it is collaborative and that is what is so exciting."

Josh Harris, one of the student assistants who helped install the lab during the summer, has been impressed with what can be accomplished in the new lab.

"I just finished notating a piece for Dr. (Scott) Herrington for the choir to sing," Harris said. "I still haven't figured out near all that it can do."

Harris, a junior music major, is looking forward to completing his education with the help of the music lab.

"Technology is such a big part of music," he said. "If you don't have the technology, you don't get that part of the education."