Senior Hannah Pozzebon built a virtual Pratt Music Hall — in Minecraft

By Sasha Nyary

When Mount Holyoke College closed its campus because of the coronavirus pandemic, flute player Hannah Pozzebon ’20 missed Pratt Music Hall so much that she built a virtual version of it in Minecraft, the popular sandbox video game

 

Pozzebon used the Pratt practice rooms daily to practice flute, piccolo and piano. One of the principal flutists in the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra, she had sectional practices in the building. She performed in McCulloch Auditorium and Warbeke Room. 

As concert manager for the Department of Music, she oversaw performances from the McCulloch control booth, working with sound, lights and recording technicians. An undeclared music minor — “I fulfilled all the course requirements” — she took classes in Pratt.

Pozzebon and her friends were in Pratt Music Hall so often that they joked about building a dorm room on top of the building so they never had to leave.

“I take music very seriously,” said Pozzebon, who is an international relations and French double major. “I practice every day. Music is definitely a big part of my college experience. I’m around it all the time and the majority of my friends are people I’ve met through music and who are also at Pratt pretty much every day. The opportunity to meet so many wonderful people has really been beneficial for my experience at Mount Holyoke.”

Hannah Pozzebon

Pozzebon lost that routine when campus shut down and she moved back to her family home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. But then she realized she could put it back into her life by building Minecraft Pratt. 

“I saw that another student, Ella Giordano, had made a Minecraft version of Blanchard Hall,” she said. “I was thinking, I want to do something like that. It sparked my own creativity and I was thinking what are the buildings that I know and that I will want to spend this time on. I was like, Pratt, of course I can make Pratt.”

Pozzebon re-created every room of Pratt Music Hall, including offices, bathrooms, hallways, the student lounge and the Eleanor Pierce Stevens Music Library. She even built the dorm space she and her friends had always wanted — because she could. The only spaces she didn’t build were the closets.

“I’m not an expert in Minecraft,” she said. “I was obsessed with it in middle school and I just recently got back into it. You can choose different modes of how you want to interact with the game. I built it in the creative world so I could have the necessary resources.”

Pozzebon’s Minecraft is not hosted on a shared server so she can’t invite her friends to join her there. But she can share her screen. A recent tour began with a drone’s eye view of the outside of the building and the lake. 

Illustration by Marina Li

“I started with the facade first because I had more pictures of the facade and I looked at an aerial photo of Pratt on Google,” she said, moving inside through the front door. “I did all the rooms from memory, because I spend time in most of the rooms and I know where they are.”

Night happened to be starting to fall in Minecraft Pratt, which was a good thing, Pozzebon said from the sound booth in the back of McCulloch Auditorium.

“Once it’s fully nighttime you can see the stage lighting — it’s performance-ready. This is where I would work as concert manager and I put in the black glass that we have. The stage lighting really puts the emphasis on the stage.”

She pointed out the beams and sound panels and Pratt’s large windows. She toured past the department office and upstairs to the practice room where she would have her lesson. She noted the kitchenette and the Warbeke Room, giving shoutouts to the music professors as she passed their offices — “Hey Larry! Hi Adeline!”

Illustration by Marina Li

Pozzebon modified details where Minecraft’s limitations required it. The student lockers are horizontal, the accessibility ramp outside had to be built in steps, banners in solid class colors hang on a tall brick wall rather than the rainbow paintings that are actually there, and she added new double doors to allow a Minecraft piano to get through. It all feels familiar.

“When I walk through the hallway that goes from the lounge, and pass the lockers and look into the library, it’s kind of what it feels like,” she said. “It feels like how it would to walk through it in real life. I would walk into the hallway because that’s where my instrument was, or to my practice room or to the lounge during breaks.”

Ultimately, it reminds her of the consistency of music in her life and how it will always be with her, Pozzebon said.

“I’ve been playing music for so long and I still feel like I’m on this musical journey that hasn’t really ended yet or revealed itself to me. Right now, music is an escape from my studies and whatever else is happening in the world. I feel my brain relaxing when I play music.”

Four pictures of Pratt Music Hall constructed in Minecraft

Hannah Pozzebon’s Minecraft Pratt, clockwise from top left: McCulloch Auditorium, class-color banners, a view from outside, and the imaginary dorm room on top of the building.