Every year around Halloween, people all over the country get in the spirit of the “spooky season” by playing tricks, staging scares and drinking lots of pumpkin spice lattes. Students on Hope College’s campus are no exception. Many students will decorate their dorms, dress up for parties and eat a little bit more candy than usual. For students in the music department, however, there is not much fun about Halloween.
The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts was officially completed in 2015, and ever since it was opened for classes, students have reported alleged “ghost sightings” in the days leading up to Oct. 31. The building certainly gives off a creepy vibe at times, especially in the late hours of the evening when the motion-sensored lights stop working, and the only sounds are that of the wind howling outside and the organ. One student claimed to have walked around the entire building, visiting all three organs in hopes of finding the person playing the slow church hymns, but there was no other soul in the building. This year, the spirits of Jack H. Miller have grown even more devious than in previous years. Students have reported opening their lockers to find their violin strings cut, and one Music Education major was even locked in a practice room for an hour.
The student, a sophomore named Mandy Miller, says about her experience, “I couldn’t open the door; it was jammed or something. I tried texting my friends to let me out, but there’s no cell service in the back practice rooms. I was so scared; I thought I would be trapped there for days.” When asked if anything else suspicious happened while she was trapped, she mentioned how “nothing happened at first, but then the piano keys started moving without me touching them. I curled up in the corner and covered my ears; whatever spirit was present that night had clearly never properly learned to play Bach’s Moonlight Sonata” said Miller (‘21). Miller was eventually found by another student passing by, who stopped to peer into the room when they heard the Moonlight Sonata being butchered. Upon an investigation by Campus Safety on the practice room door, there was apparently no evidence of any type of tampering to the lock or door.
While the freshmen and sophomores are still wary of the Halloween spirits, the seniors and faculty in the music department have grown used to the yearly antics. Professor Linda Strouf, who teaches Keyboard Skills, leaves a bowl of candy corn on her piano to keep the spirits happy, and there is always pumpkin spice coffee creamer in the office, supplied by the faculty in exchange for them being spared from the spooky-time tricks. Despite many claims from numerous students, there has been little concrete evidence to prove any spirits actually hang around the music center. Some hazy photos suggest ghosts flying over the building late at night. Hopefully there will be no more incidents in the last few days of October, but, just in case, stay alert and consider changing your locker combination.