Sing, play, or listen at Open Mic: Music Library opens its doors to performers

pianoBy correspondent, David Rolnick, graduate student in Mathematics

This Friday at noon, the Lewis Music Library will continue its tradition of Open Mic, somewhere between a concert and a karaoke night. From noon to 1 pm, the MIT community is invited to sing a song, play a piece, or just listen and enjoy the show. Performers range from novices to professionals, and play in every style. It will be music, by us, for us, for an hour. And cookies.

“We have songwriters who come in, performing their own compositions,” said Peter Munstedt, Music Librarian. “Also classical music, jazz, Indian music – it’s a range.” The instruments also vary – although voice, piano, and guitar seem to be fairly popular. A piano is provided; otherwise, performers should bring their own instruments.


Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

When it’s not hosting Open Mic, the Lewis Music Library is one of the most quiet and serene study spaces on campus. Opened in 1996, the library looks new with its abundance of light and hardwood-glass décor. Study tables overlook a courtyard through huge windows, and students can often be discovered nestled with books in the famously comfortable seating.

The library possesses an astounding wealth of material that rivals that of many music conservatories. Within the shelves are packed some 40,000 scores and anthologies, 18,000 books on music, 25,000 CDs, and 1,500 DVDs. The 10,000 record albums are kept in storage. “If anyone’s looking for anything, we will find it for them,” said Munstedt. The library’s computers have composition software and there are study spaces for groups to listen to recordings and watch films. Visiting scholars and composers regularly give lectures at Lewis; see a complete list of events.

The library began its Open Mic project last spring. With the array of formal concerts and recitals at MIT, there is now a place for low-key music sharing. “It’s all over the map,” Munstedt described. “We have some professional-level people come in, some people who are just learning the instrument. It’s very informal, and it’s a very supportive group. If you’re just starting out, and if you want an audience, we’ll support you.”