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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: An open letter to flag room singers

Student+freshman+Daniel+Warren+playing+the+piano+at+the+flag+room+on+Feb.+12%2C+2023
Photo by ASHELY BAUTISTA

Student freshman Daniel Warren playing the piano at the flag room on Feb. 12, 2023

Imagine: You’ve settled down in the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, Flag Room for the evening, diligently working on an assignment due at 11:59 p.m.

A delicate piano melody accompanies comfortable quiet, the soft sound of rustling pages harmonizing the black and white keys as students flip through textbooks and notes. Lightly murmured conversation and the pitter-patter of laptop keys paint a backdrop of delicate noise. 

Suddenly, a voice pierces the air. 

Confusion and annoyance flicker throughout the room — Did someone accidentally hit play on a Youtube video? Are there hidden speakers in the rafters? Is Lea Michele about to descend from the heavens?

But as the voice crescendos, you finally find the culprit: someone seated behind the piano, hammering away at the keys while singing along at the top of their lungs. 

Why?

The scenario I just described is one that has characterized my MSC study sessions too frequently over the past month. To say I’m bothered is an understatement. 

I’ve been an avid Evans Library supporter since my first semester at Texas A&M, spending hours upon hours holed up on the third floor reading endless chapters and writing countless papers. However, at the start of this year, I decided to branch out of my beloved sanctuary and explore what other study spots the world has to offer — namely — the Flag Room. 

With warm ambient lighting, expansive oak tables, ample seating and a beautiful grand piano, what is there not to love?

Unfortunately, it was around my third visit that this newly found utopia began to crumble.

I was just getting into a 100-page reading when a voice belted into the studious silence. Taken aback, students turned to the piano and watched the performer sing his heart out to a few melodies. At the end of the number, scattered applause filled the room. It was a surprising, yet somewhat enjoyable experience. 

Then it happened again with a new bold vocalist the next week. 

And again. 

And again. 

… And again.

Who decided the flag room is now a concert hall? A loudly-showcase-your-talent space? A sing-while-people-try-to-study arena?

See, playing the piano is one thing. 

When Debussy, Chopin and Beethoven melodies fill the air, a blanket of serenity descends. Classical music and renditions of modern songs compose the perfect setting for studious listeners, providing a live focus playlist for all in the room. Once, I even witnessed an Aggie plug their electric guitar into the wall and skillfully play a jazzy duet with the majestic Steinway & Sons. 

All beautiful, and peaceful, outlets of self-expression and musical talent. 

What’s not beautiful? Belting to be heard over the piano. Violently playing the delicate keys. Singing in a mellow, crowded room full of students trying to write essays, pass exams or even sleep. 

There’s a time and a place for such showcases of voice, and the Flag Room is neither. 

As someone who is a music enthusiast and has sung in choirs for the past 10 years of my life, I like to think there is some credibility to my critique. Throughout the years, one lesson has been hammered into my soul after innumerable concerts, solos and rehearsals: singing etiquette. 

Just like no one appreciates that one person who unnecessarily riffs their way through a simple Happy Birthday, no one appreciates a quiet area disrupted by an unwarranted vocal performance. It’s like wearing a burnt orange and white shirt on campus — blatantly out of place and bound to stir some rage. 

With musical talent or passion must also come respect and awareness. 

Not to mention, as someone who requires immense effort and self-control to sit down and get work done, it’s frustrating when unplanned distractions arise as you’re in the middle of a focus groove or attempting to enter one. What’s worse, any music that isn’t exclusively instrumental ruins my train of thought when studying and turns my brain into a jumbled mess of chaos. 

Thus, for the sake of my own and I’m sure many other students’ sanity and academic success, I ask we not turn the Flag Room into a makeshift singing concert hall. If I want to listen to Joji or Christian worship music, I’ll open Spotify and plug in my earbuds. Preferably during moments of free time. 

To any guilty parties who may be reading this tirade, fret not. I offer some suggestions as a peace offering. 

There are multiple music practice rooms — a few with pianos — in the Commons and Hullabaloo. All you have to do is ask the front desk for a key. 

Love the rush of performing? Join one of A&M’s diverse music ensembles. There are numerous acapella groups, jazz bands, orchestras and choirs to feed your passion. As a member of the mixed chorus, Century Singers, I can confidently say it’s worth your while. 

If none of these options sound appealing, the great outdoors may be your best bet. An open bench or grassy field make perfect spots for a singalong session, where guitar strums and harmonies fade into the wind and open space. 

So, dear Flag Room singers, you’ve heard my grievances and advice.

Considering there are many other ways to express musical skill, I hope using the Flag Room as a personal stage does not become an Aggie tradition.

On the off chance it ever does, rest assured you’ll find me back in some bookshelf-hidden corner at Evans, studying in blissful silence while also plotting a way to get the piano removed from the MSC. 

Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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Ana Sofia Sloane
Ana Sofia Sloane, Associate Opinion Editor
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