The Oberlin Review

Co-op Provides Accessible Practice Area, Equipment

Laura Paddock

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A single drumstick impales the scuffed ceiling of the windowless and empty Wilder 404.

The room, however, will not be empty for long. Beginning this semester, room 404 will house the Gear Co-op, a cooperative dedicated to providing musical equipment and practice space for students who would otherwise not have access to these resources.

“We hope to … create a space that would promote musical growth and development among the student body, specifically to those who are disenfranchised by their inability to bring, [for example], their drum kit to the school,” said College sophomore and co-op member Julian Geltman. “It’s a really slow process. We’re still in our foundation, taking baby steps.”

The co-op has begun stocking the room with equipment such as portable audio systems and drum kits. The co-op hopes to use money gathered from fundraising to expand its equipment collection.

The idea for the co-op started at the beginning of the semester during sign-ups for the Wilder 404 practice space. Students hoping to register for practice space were required to arrive for signing up at 8 a.m. on the second day of classes. The Gear Co-op was started in an effort to address this system and make a practice space that is more accessible for everyone.

Additionally, the co-op aims to encourage students to meet fellow musicians with whom they’d want to make music. Geltman sees the co-op as filling a hole by meeting the needs of first-year and sophomore musicians, since upperclassmen usually have access to off-campus houses where they can convene and practice.

“We want this to be the people’s co-op,” said College sophomore Matt Loreti.

College sophomore and co-op member Ben Mark said he’d like to see an environment conducive to learning, where regular skill-share sessions and recording workshops become the norm.

“We hope to take over Wilder 404, but we’ve got loftier goals than that,” said Geltman.

Eventually, the co-op members hope to provide an entire house where people can go to practice, learn about gear and interact with other musicians and bands.

The project has support from the administration. The band members spoke with Andrea Kalyn, dean of the Conservatory, who enthusiastically backed the project, citing a need for practice space for non-Conservatory musicians.

“I think this is a fabulous project,” said Kalyn in an email to the Review.

The Gear Co-op will function similarly to any other campus co-op. Members are expected to dedicate a certain number of hours; jobs include surveying the gear, helping with trainings on gear operations or checking bands in and out of the room before and after they practice.

According to College sophomore Puck Bregstone, the Gear Co-op’s name is meant to be misleading.

“Part of it is the fact that you have to be in the know. The name is an invitation to get in on the joke; otherwise you’ll just think it’s a hardware co-op,” said Bregstone

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