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choral room design

Hello...my current school is in the process of building an arts building. It will house theatre, music, and visual art. There are two music rooms being planned, one choral and the other instrumental. There are a few practice rooms also. There is a lot of debate about which would be better for the choir room, a flat floor with Wenger SEATED risers (they feel this would allow flexibility), or a permanent, tiered flooring for seating. If you have strong feelings, or have a room that "works" for you in one of these 2 configurations, would you please write and let me know? Thank you. Kathy Cushman



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on January 27, 2004 7:15pm
Is this room to double for theater rehearsals? Dance space? Permanent
risers will make it difficult to rehearse groups like a show choir or
block shows if your auditorium is not regularly available for those
activities.

Brian Coleman
West Carrollton High School, Ohio


On Jan 27, 2004, at 2:53 PM, Kibcush(a)AOL.COM wrote:

> Hello...my current school is in the process of building an arts
> building. It will house theatre, music, and visual art. There are
> two music rooms being planned, one choral and the other instrumental.
> There are a few practice rooms also. There is a lot of debate about
> which would be better for the choir room, a flat floor with Wenger
> SEATED risers (they feel this would allow flexibility), or a
> permanent, tiered flooring for seating. If you have strong feelings,
> or have a room that "works" for you in one of these 2 configurations,
> would you please write and let me know? Thank you. Kathy Cushman
>


--
on January 27, 2004 8:07pm
Whatever you do, address acoustics first. You can live with either
configuration but you can't live in a room where you cannot hear your ensemble. I'm
working in one of those after a new "state of the art" wing was added. I can't
hear, they can't hear and nobody is happy.



Carolyn G. Lokken
Grand Island Senior High School
1100 Ransom Road
Grand Island, New York 14072
716-773-8868
carolynlokken(a)aol.com


--
on January 27, 2004 8:07pm
I inherited a rehearsal room that had built in risers. The were not the
right size, in the wrong place. The design of the risers had stair steps up
the right side where there should have been a rail to keep students from
slipping off. As a matter of safety we had to keep chairs well away from
this edge and it really cut down on our usable space. In this particular
school it was not good to have your back to the door of the room during
class. Nothing could be done with fixed risers. No matter how you
configure the room it is always possible that the next director may want to
tweak things.

The short version: Go with flexibility instead of built-in. Who knows,
maybe some day you will get an even newer nicer facility and the room you
are building will be used for something else. It would be a real pain to
remove built-in risers.

Not that I get emotional about this or anything...

Rob
>
> > Hello...my current school is in the process of building an arts
> > building. It will house theatre, music, and visual art. There are
> > two music rooms being planned, one choral and the other instrumental.
> > There are a few practice rooms also. There is a lot of debate about
> > which would be better for the choir room, a flat floor with Wenger
> > SEATED risers (they feel this would allow flexibility), or a
> > permanent, tiered flooring for seating. If you have strong feelings,
> > or have a room that "works" for you in one of these 2 configurations,
> > would you please write and let me know? Thank you. Kathy Cushman
> >
>

--
on January 29, 2004 3:43pm
Kathy,

On a couple of occasions in my teaching career I have had opportunities
to give input into designing chorus and band rehearsal spaces. In both
cases we chose to have a flat floor. In both schools we put Wenger
seated risers in the Chorus Room and the teachers have the flexibility
to arrange the room to best meet their needs. One of the band rooms had
seated band risers, but the room was pretty much limited to one layout.
The other band room was left flat which provided the most flexibility
and efficient use of space.

Here are a couple of things to think about during the design phase:
1. Be sure you have plenty of storage space for music library, risers,
sound equipment, uniforms, extra chairs, etc. Insufficient storage
always seems to be a problem.
2. Be sure there is a double door into the Chorus room so you can move
the piano and other equipment easily.
3. Consider putting a water fountain IN the room rather than out in the
hall.
4. Get an acoustical engineer involved in the planning. Most
architects are not acoustical specialists. They should be concerned
with the transfer of sound from room to room, the height of the fire
walls (not just the height of the suspended ceiling), the location and
configuration of heating ducts, etc.
5. The Wenger Corp. has a free (I think) publication on designing
rehearsal and performance spaces. Contact them.

Good Luck!
Rusty Keesler

-----Original Message-----
From: ChoralTalk [mailto:CHORALTALK-L(a)indiana.edu] On Behalf Of
Kibcush(a)AOL.COM
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 2:54 PM
To: CHORALTALK-L(a)LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU
Subject: [CHORALTALK-L] choral room design



--
on January 29, 2004 3:43pm
I will be in the same situation in two years and am
requesting the removable risers. I like to have
flexibility!


--- Kibcush(a)AOL.COM wrote:

> There is a lot of debate about which would be better
> for the choir room, a flat floor with Wenger SEATED
> risers (they feel this would allow flexibility), or
> a permanent, tiered flooring for seating.

====Carolyn Dwyer
US/MS Choral Director
Holy Innocents' Episcopal School
Atlanta, Georgia
caroflutesinger(a)yahoo(dot)com

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--
on February 1, 2004 10:51am
Your comments were so helpful. Thank you very much. You spoke very
knowledgably (sp?) and what you said got me thinking. yes, I know the publication
you mention. MENC also used to publish one, which was quite good.
Since the building will be a whole arts building (including theatre,
music, fine arts, etc.), there will also be a dance studio, band room, black box
theatre, and various practice rooms, etc. ALL of these will have a flat
floor. I PERSONALLY felt that (in this particular situation), it would be a
crime NOT to build in the risers. I mean...really,,,,in a building such as
this, ONE ROOM could be devoted to Choral Music. I feel that the Wenger seated
risers are so large that once they get put up, no one would really take them
down anyway, unless they are desperate for space. If they ARE, they can use
one of the other flat surface areas. I will admit, however, that it is very
interesting to note that I received about 10 replies from my e-mail to choral
talk, and ALL of them said to get the portable seated risers for flexibility.
I am stunned by this. Do colleges do this??? The colleges I attended
(undergrad and grad) had rehearsal rooms with built in risers. Of course, these
too were in buildings with many different types of music rooms. maybe that
is the key?? The Wenger Co. does GREAT work, but when I have looked at
these seated risers, I have noticed that things can fall underneath them (i
mean, they are open underneath, like bleachers). I guess we're all products of
what we have experienced ourselves, and I was lucky in HS to have a choral room
with permanently tiered flooring, and throughout college. But I found your
response very illuminating, and will consider your suggestions. Thank you
very much! kathy cushman


--
on February 1, 2004 8:24pm
>kathy cushman wrote:
>
> Since the building will be a whole arts building (including theatre,
>music, fine arts, etc.), there will also be a dance studio, band
>room, black box
>theatre, and various practice rooms, etc. ALL of these will have a flat
>floor. I PERSONALLY felt that (in this particular situation), it would be a
>crime NOT to build in the risers.

I didn't have time to reply to this on the first go-around. Kathy,
you've identified the important variable. Is the room really going
to be dedicated to a single purpose in perpetuity, or is it
reasonable to assume that it will have to serve multiple purposes
over its projected lifetime?

My high school had a civic auditorium with instrumental and choral
rehearsal rooms, a WPA project that would date it to the 1930s. Both
rooms had built-in permanent risers, and we never thought anything
about it.

My undergrad school (1950s) had a dedicated band room with built-in
seated risers, and I can't really remember where the chorus rehearsed.

During my tenure as a grad student and an Instructor at Indiana, the
rehearsal rooms had to be all-purpose. The large instrumental
rehearsal rooms were flat floor. i believe that the rooms used for
choral rehearsals and conducting classes did have seated risers but
also plenty of flat floor space. The room used by the early music
ensemble had a flat floor suitable for multiple configurations.

Here there have been a number of setups, most of them compromises.
Before dedicated music facilties were built, the large Choral Union
rehearsed in a lecture hall with highly raked seating and the
conductor on the platform at the bottom. The smaller chamber choir
rehearsed in an all-purpose classroom with a flat floor. There was a
large instrumental room with a flat floor. My show ensemble
rehearsed in another building, and the large rehearsal room had been
customized by my predecesor. There were 3 levels of seated risers
constructed not with Wenger equipment but with plain old 4 x 8'
staging of different heighths, which then had been carpeted over.
One area had been left on a single raised level to accomodate a drum
set. At one end of the room we had a dance floor (flat), a wall of
dance mirrors, and space for a duplicate of the stage set we were
currently using for shows. It was remarkably flexible for a
dedicated setup. When we moved to a new building 12 years ago, we
got the suspended dance floor and wall of mirrors, but the seating
area was left flat so that classes could also be taught there.

Our classical choral ensembles rehearse in our Recital Salon, where
they most often perform, and can move from raked seating with the
conductor and piano down on the stage to a stage setup with or
without choral risers.

In other words, there are many possible configurations, all of which
have positive qualities to recommend them, and they don't necessarily
have to involve Wenger's well made but overpriced equipment.
Probably even more important than the question of risers is the
question of heating/cooling. School architects have an unhealthy
tendency to put in systems with fans operating in the rooms
themselves, creating background noise ranging from barely audible to
overwhelming. If you can get someone to recognize that problem, it
would be well worth fighting for a good solution.

John


--
John & Susie Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
Mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html

--
on February 1, 2004 8:26pm


Kibcush(a)AOL.COM wrote:

>it would be a
>crime NOT to build in the risers. I mean...really,,,,in a building such as
>this, ONE ROOM could be devoted to Choral Music.
>
>
Give me a big room with a flat floor any day! The flexibility to put
your choir in a circle so they can hear one another, or smaller circles
organized by part, to do even a little bit of movement if you don't have
enough room to do full-blown Dalcroze stuff, to bring in standing risers
similar to what you would use in concert, etc., etc. far outweigh (IMHO)
ANYTHING that seated risers would provide. Seated risers are good for
taking attendance. If your choir can't see you, put you on the platform.

As soon as you've got platforms or built-in steps, you're stuck. You'll
be reluctant to go to the bother to fold up and remove the platforms
when you want some room to move, and you'll be unable to do so if the
floor is built with steps. This deprives you and your choir of an
amazingly good teaching tool. Being able to move (literally) makes
teaching phrasing, forward motion, even dynamics so much easier than
staying fixed in one spot and talking about it.

Just my $.02.



>
>
--
Dean Ekberg
Rochester, NY USA
dekberg(a)frontiernet.net





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