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Austin High School

Austin High School



Performing & Rehearsal Spaces

Austin, MN






The renovated Austin Public High School, in Austin, Minnesota, includes the additions of band, orchestra and choir rooms. The renovation is the result of a unique partnership between Austin Public Schools, the MacPhail Center for Music, and the Hormel Foundation.

The $14.5 million “MacPhail project” included a renovation of the existing annex across the street from the main high school building, and an addition for new band, choir and orchestra rehearsal rooms, along with a music library, practice rooms and storage rooms. 

“We do a lot of work with schools throughout the state, but this is the only location where we’re fully integrated with the entire district. It’s the first site MacPhail has ever developed outside of the metro area, and it is unique in the country to have a community music school housed inside a high school music site,” says Paul Babcock, MacPhail President and Chief Operating Officer. “Together, we’ve created something really special for the students and surrounding community.”

The highlights for students and teachers, however, are the VAE® Rehearsal Systems that have been installed in the band, choir and orchestra rooms, and the VAE Studios for individual and small group practice sessions, using the same technology.

“They showed us this fantastic technology that can make our practice rooms sound like Knowlton Auditorium, our performance space at the high school,” says Cheryl Berglund, Austin Site Director for MacPhail. “That kind of technology makes such a difference in the way we practice and perform. There’s never enough time to practice in the actual performance hall, so this is a great alternative.”

The Rehearsal Systems include an array of microphones and speakers that can mimic the acoustics of a broad range of performance venues — from a large recital hall to a cathedral to a small auditorium. The goal is to help performers hear what they’ll sound like at a venue they’ll be performing in.

“The system adds acoustic energy back into the room and provides a truly unique teaching tool for the instructor,” says Matt Hildebrand, Acoustics Product Manager at Wenger Corporation. 

“The VAE system allows us to do things we couldn’t do before, like record a performance and then play it back so the students can get instant feedback and make adjustments,” says Christoph Dundas, Director of Bands. “It encourages them to play like there are 40 people in the room instead of 20, which boosts their energy level,” he says. 




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