It truly is a garage band. Or orchestra. A one-man-band at that.

20-year old Scott Sanders, a sophomore in Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, practices his French horn several times a week on the fifth floor of the Segal Visitors Center parking garage.

The powerful sound reverberates throughout the garage, and also wafts across campus, which is how I came upon the young man who brings Mozart instead of Mazdas to the parking deck.

My wife Jennifer and I were enjoying a late Tuesday afternoon walk through the NU campus, when we heard the sound of music. Not the movie. Just the sound.

It was obviously coming from the garage, but exactly where? Up I went. First floor? Nothing. Second? Nope. Third, Fourth, and then, finally, on Floor Five, a solitary Man and His Horn.

Sanders told me he also uses a normal practice room at the music school, but because he has to share that room with three other students, each getting a specific time, it’s sometimes easier just to head to the garage.

Besides being the largest unofficial practice studio on campus, the parking deck, Sanders told me, also has “great acoustics.” It’s terrific for checking his intonation, and, Sanders said, “it’s really fun, too.”

Sanders said other musicians sometimes play the garage as well, although on different floors. Sanders prefers Five. Six, he said, is too close to the top, although early on in the coronavirus pandemic, when indoor practice was restricted, Sanders actually had lessons on the seventh floor roof.

Sanders usually plays scales or arpeggios. If it’s too windy, he noted, sheet music can blow away, although on cold or windy days, he’s been known to practice in the stairwell.

The goal of this Texas native is to become a professional musician. And in a few years, when he negotiates his first contract with a symphony orchestra somewhere, he should insist on a primo spot in the parking garage.

He’s earned it.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *