A Place to Harmonize

Renovating UM's School of Music Building

Renderings depict plans to update the Recital Hall, here, and rehearsal rooms, below.

UM's School of Music is the nexus of learning, performance and creativity for UM students, as well as thousands of community members. The school is the state’s and region’s hub for music education, training music teachers who go on to serve in rural Montana communities and beyond. The school also educates artists for wide ranging careers, and hosts community organizations, professional musicians and statewide competitions and camps that draw nearly 2,000 junior high and high school students to UM each year.

Good news for this essential UM institution: The building that houses it is getting some much-needed upgrades. Until summer 2021, the facility had not undergone any major renovations since its construction in 1953.

Rendering of a choir rehearsal room in UM's School of Music

Three UM alumni and longtime supporters donated $3 million to undertake renovations to a portion of the building that began in May 2021. Additional leadership gifts are needed for future building upgrades.

A fundraising committee chaired by Don McCammon, an alumnus and College of the Arts and Media Advisory Council member, is leading efforts to inspire the needed private support.

McCammon, whose love of music was instilled by his mother, sister and UM professors, said the impact of the renovations extends beyond academic support.

“Music is a way of life,” he said. “It becomes a spiritual activity, and that’s why this project is critical. It helps students feel appreciated and communicate that what they’re learning matters — for life.”

Delaney Wirtala, a sophomore studying percussion performance, said the renovations will enhance UM’s creative learning environment and students’ enthusiasm.

“Coming back next semester to more functional spaces will inspire productivity, excitement and motivation in students and faculty,” Wirtala said. “You’re going to see a lot of high-quality performances following the upgrades.”

Thanks to philanthropic giving, renovations have already delivered significant improvements to accessibility, acoustic design and ventilation in the facility's band and choir rehearsal rooms and several smaller practice rooms.

With additional private support, future upgrades will include updating classrooms with integrated audio-video systems, flexible furnishings, new lighting fixtures and windows, and sound isolation between floor levels. Twenty student practice rooms will be soundproofed, a critical improvement to help students hone their musical skills with fewer distractions.

New audio-video systems and lighting equipment will be installed to support live and recorded performances, lectures and presentations in the Recital Hall. The lobby will also be expanded and receive aesthetic enhancements.

Music Building renovations are made during the summer months to avoid disrupting learning and performances during the academic year. Your contributions by October 2022 will help enable renovations planned for summer 2023.

Learn More and Give

For an inside view of the project and to hear faculty and students reflect on its impact, watch a video at SupportUM.org/Music-Renovation.

To make a gift in support of Music Building upgrades, contact Director of Development Cate Sundeen at 406-243-4990 or cate.sundeen@supportum.org.