Practice Rooms, Instrument Lockers, and Music Department Spaces

There are fifteen practice rooms in the music building; all but one of them have pianos. (For those who play harpischord, there are instruments available in the Early Instrument Room in the Music building.) Anyone with a valid Harvard I.D. may use the practice rooms, including students in all of Harvard’s schools and divisions, faculty, and staff. Practice rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. There is a two-hour limit.

To use a practice room you go to the front office at the Music Building (Reception area) and sign the log book. Practice room keys hang on a wooden stand nearby. Leave your ID and take a key. When the offices of the Music Department are closed, the keys will be at a security desk opposite the reception area.

Professional lessons are not allowed in the practice rooms. We’re not able to allow amplified music and percussion instruments either.

Practice Room Guidelines Late Spring 2022

Practice rooms will be available on a first come, first served basis to members of the Harvard community (with a valid Harvard ID card) from:
Monday – Friday: 9:00 am-4:30 pm*
Saturday / Sunday: CLOSED
* Practice rooms will close promptly at 4:30 pm

The Music Building will be closed for Commencement on Thursday, May 26, as well as May 30 and 31 for Memorial Day.

Please note that the following rules will apply, according to Harvard University’s Environmental Health and Safety regulations:

  • Solo practice room users may choose to remove their masks when practicing alone with the door closed.
  • Masks are required for practice sessions involving more than one person.
  • Wind/brass instrument practice is now permitted in the practice rooms, solo use only (one user at a time).
  • Singing practice is now permitted in the practice rooms. Singers may remove their masks only if they are practicing alone.
  • Infractions of this policy will be recorded and may result in loss of practice room privileges.

There are also practice rooms in other campus locations, and 60 of Harvard’s buildings have pianos in them. There is a percussion practice room in Sanders Theatre. Piano practice rooms exist in all the houses, in SOCH (Student Organization Center at Hilles-one room), in Loker Commons (two rooms plus storage space for large instruments and percussion), in the Freshman dorms [one between Wigglesworth C and D basements, one in Wigglesworth D basement, two in Straus basement (A and C), one in Greenough basement, and two in (wheelchair accessible) Matthews basement; all available from 9 am to 11 pm with the exception of Straus, which is open 24 hours/day. The Freshman Music Rooms are open only to first-year students (more on the practice rooms for freshmen HERE.)

There are a total of 220 pianos on campus. These are not under the jurisdiction of the music department.

Practice rooms are closed during all legal holidays, and over the December holiday break (normally December 23-January 2). During January, reading periods, intersession, and summer, hours are curtailed.

Instrument Lockers

There are a limited number of lockers in the music building. Ask to reserve one at the Receptionist’s desk. There is additional instrument storage in the Memorial Hall/Sanders Theatre complex; contact about storing harps.

Please visit the Piano Technical Services website for answers to any questions about pianos at Harvard.

The Music Department does not rent, purchase or sell instruments.


Harvard University is blessed with a rich and varied collection of organs. The magnificent 1958 Flentrop (housed in Busch Hall) is perhaps its most famous example. Championed by E. Power Biggs, it remains one of the great examples of classic organ building principles, and is still revered by organists the world over. In addition, the university houses a 1911 Skinner in Andover Hall, as well as a Hutchings in Divinity Hall. Several of the undergraduate houses have instruments, as well as a number of churches in Cambridge that house organs on loan from the university.

The newest addition is the Fisk Op. 139, housed in Memorial Church.

Concert Venues

Harvard has three primary concert halls. John Knowles Paine Hall is located on the second floor of the music building, and is a concert hall that seats 437. Other performance venues include the beautiful, 1166-seat Sanders Theatre and Lowell Hall (seats around 300), which is frequently used for jazz. Several of the Harvard houses also offer opportunities for musical performance. For instance, Dudley House hosts several graduate student music groups including a chorus, orchestra, jazz band, and traditional music ensemble.

House common rooms can also be used for music performance, and multi-purpose areas such as University Hall’s Faculty Room, the Barker Center Thompson Room, the Arts at 29 Garden, and the courtyard of the Harvard Arts Museums are used for concerts as well.