Rehearsal Facilities 2: acoustics
new choir room design acoustics compilation by Tony
Here's the information I received--If you want to add
anything, please respond to me at tdb(a)att.net. Thanks
for all the advice!!!
Please help me by recommending books or articles on
choir room acoustics, and by sharing your opinions on
what to look for in the acoustically ideal choir room.
Can you recommend specific building materials and
furnishings, as well as shape and wall angles?
How much reverberation is most desireable?
Should we have hardwood floors or carpet? Sheetrock
walls or something else? What type of ceiling and
lighting would be most desireable?
Should I build seated risers in a "U" shape or straight
lines? Should I build permanent seated risers or buy
THE (condensed) REPLIES:
THE AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS HAS PUBLICATIONS---
KEEP THE SURFACES HARD AND GO FOR A RECTANGLE--SHOE BOX--
AVOID CUSHIONED CHAIRS, OR GO FOR SOMETHING VERY LIGHTLY
CUSHIONED. AVOID HEAVY DRAPERIES, OR ANYTHING THAT WILL
SOAK UP SOUND.
> How much reverberation is most desireable? 1 1/2 TO 2
SECONDS. IF YOUR CHURCH HAS MORE, THEN TRY TO SIMULATE
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. IF LESS, THEN CONVINCE THEM TO
REMOVE THE CARPET IN THE CHURCH!
GET THE HARDEST SHEETROCK AND GO FOR EITHER WOOD OR HARD
LINEOLEUM FLOORING. OPT FOR A HIGH CEILING; SOUND WILL
LIGHTING IS IMPORTANT. I'M GOING FOR TRACK LIGHTING FROM
THE WALLS AROUND THREE SIDES TO THE SINGERS.
I HAVE MY SINGERS IN A HORSESHOE SHAPE, THAT WAY THEY
CAN SEE AND HEAR EACH OTHER. IT ALSO MAKES FOR BETTER
FELLOWSHIP---LESS UPTIGHT ATMOSPHERE, LESS CLASSROOM
FEELING. DEFINITELY GO FOR PORTABLE RISERS---YOU MAY
WANT TO CHANGE THE ARRANGEMENT FROM TIME TO TIME, OR USE
THE ROOM FOR SOMETHING ELSE. GIVE THEM EACH A STURDY
MUSIC STAND. IT HELPS EVERY ASPECT--- FROM TONE
PRODUCTION TO POSTURE TO DEALING WITH MUSIC FOLDERS---
AND IT MAKES YOUR SINGERS FEEL LIKE PROS.
==TONY: Here is something that I give out when I exhibit
for choir apparel.
You might get an idea or two.
Hope you make it a good music area.
A Collegiate Cap & Gown & Apparel Sales Representative
ready to assist
ELMER L. CROSBY , JR. Rep.#0156
14322 Ella Lee Lane, Houston, TX 77077-5211
HOW TO MAKE A MUSIC ROOM!
Having represented Collegiate Cap & Gown for
over 25 years in the South Texas area, many styles of
Music Rooms have been viewed and recommended by
Elmer L. Crosby, Jr. who will be happy to discuss with
you. Contact via mail to elcjr(a)flash.net or via
www.robes.com sales representative or 14322 Ella
Lee Lane, Houston, TX 77077-5211.
You are so blessed to have a room. Now let us make
it a Music Room for Gods Honor & use!
Start with a bare room. Just a ceiling, four walls,
and a floor! (Maybe also a post or two.) You cant
change these much but you can be thankful for them and
plan to use them musically! Make it more than just a
rehearsal/line-up room! From ceiling drop or hang a
music note or two and for special seasons or enlistment
of new members print welcome or other words on notes. Be
If you have a post , use it for posting special
announcements or pictures. Change often to catch eyes.
If any walls will be exposed, have printed scripture
verses painted on them large and in neutral color.
Duplicate singing formation with a different level for
each row of singers. Often this done length- wise but it
doesnt have to be. If you have two entrances to the
choir loft or platform, consider using a corner of your
Music Room with the middle of each line in the corner
for division. This has the advantage of singers seeing
and hearing the other side of the choir as well as
divide for march-out!
You may want to use custom RISERS or have a friend home
make a level for each row of singers. Contact Wenger
Corporation, 555 Park Drive, PO Box 448, Owatonna, MN
55060-0448, Phone 1-800-733-0393, www.wengercorp.com or
Peery Products Co. PO Box 22434, Portland, OR 97269-
2434, Phone 1-800-336-0577,
http://wwww.PeeryProducts.com, or E-mail
Info(a)PeeryProducts.com. Ask for catalog and you will get
such with prices, pictures, dimensions, as well as
area representative. Consider going the Portable style
for greater use in other locations and wide enough for
chairs (that help singing) and standing.
Be sure to consider the ceiling & lights when standing
or sitting! You may also want to consider floor space
for director to walk around when directing and listening.
OTHER SUGGESTIONS: Consider where you will place in
your Music Room
Instruments to accompany singers: (To see director & to
be properly heard by singers, performers)
A piano may have to be a small upright and back covered
(or muted) if facing singers. This applies to a keyboard
and any speakers unless volume can be controlled.
Remember brass & other instruments!
Robe Storage & Music Cabinets: (for quick access & pick
up by each individual in a hurry or late!)
Time is important for distribution, pick up, and return!
(Are you using an assistant volunteer to help?)
Work Table Space: For assistant volunteers to process
music and other tasks.(with phone, computer)
This may be a permanent item or may be put up when
needed but a phone is always needed by others.
Director or Minister of Music Work Desk Conference area:
(with computer, printer, phone, etc.) This should be a
private area with chairs, concealed by cabinets, robe
storage. (other items for work!)
Storage for Music, Props, Teaching Aids, Posters, etc.:
All which need to be located here or near!
Realize your RESOURCES ! You must work with what you
Pray, Plan, Desire, Develop!
PRAY to your SOURCE ! (The One who has promised to
provide all your need
PLAN by doing research for information and with
interested, talented, volunteer HELPERS!
DESIRE what is PRACTICAL rather than what is wanted,
dependent on available space, money, etc.
DEVELOP with an eye towards improvement and changes that
should come about in time & growth.
Here is another page I distribute when I exhibit choir
robes. May you get some other ideas. I send you the raw
set up as you may want to print and display to your
committees or planning people.
A Collegiate Cap & Gown & Apparel Sales Representative
ready to assist you:ELMER L. CROSBY , JR.
Rep.#015614322 Ella Lee Lane, Houston, TX 77077-5211E-
COMMENTS ON CHOIR ROBE STORAGE:
Having represented Collegiate Cap & Gown for over 25
years in the South Texas area, many styles of CHOIR ROBE
STORAGE have been viewed and recommended by Elmer L.
Crosby, Jr. (He will be happy to discuss this with you.
Contact via E-mail: elcjr(a)flash.net
Some choirs use WARDROBE STORAGE BOXES. These
cardboard containers are used by and are available from
moving vans and storage companies. Some choirs use them
for robe storage and when they travel as they permit
robes to hang on a metal rod and not be folded. These
and other types of wardrobe containers are quick,
portable, dust proof, and low in cost. Just be sure to
get the large size that will meet your needs
withoutstuffing in the bottom the long choir robes!
(and are easy to open and make the robes available for
Some choirs use custom manufactured ROBE
STORAGE UNITS. These superior units are available
from companies such as Wenger Corporation, 555Park Dr.,
Owatonna, MN 55060-4940, (507)455-4100,
would be well worth your time to view their site and
request literature on this top of the art product.
Many choirs develop their own home-made SPACE FOR
CHOIR ROBES. This can be adapted to your available
space and money. Such space can also be adapted for
other needs like storage of music, rehearsal &
performance folios, hymnals, and other items that need
to be accessible or can be used each week from
partitioned sections above the hanging choir robe for
In the South Texas area, many types or styles of
cabinets/space for choir robes can be viewed. Again this
is dependant on space, money, and time needed to access
robe and items needed. One has to use what is available
and wise for singers to be in the right attitude/spirit
for service or a performance.
Location of Space is most important. Some organizations
locate space for choir robes in the hall near where they
rehearse or line up prior to a service or performance.
This depends on how much traffic uses the hallway when
singers are getting their robes. (It is best to
have restrooms nearby!)
Some organizations locate space for choir robes in the
rehearsal room or music suite area. Yes, this should be
a secure area for safe keeping of robes, coats, purses,
and other expensive items.
Styles for hanging of robes vary and again depend upon
space, money, etc. available. You may want to buy metal
wardrobe racks/stands from a discount or department
store. These are available on wheels for easy moving if
necessary. You may find a Dry Cleaning Company
discarding some hanging racks that you can use. It is
wise to buy spacers for the hanging bar so that hangers
are equally spaced on the bar and not bunched together
as robes often need to hang out to air after use. If a
hanging bar is not used, then consider a double sided
hook with at least 2 hooks for hangers: one for robe and
another for coat, sweater, jacket, etc., which usually
come off before a person puts on a robe. If possible, it
is best to put stoles or robe collars to be worn on
display in a special place so that they can be picked up
after person puts on a robe. Thus the accessory can be
kept pressed, clean, and ready for use when desired.
Some choirs have several accessories in different colors
and styles for every time you wear a different
accessory, you have a new different look.
It is important that you have robes covered or concealed
from sunlight and dust. You may want to use folding
doors or fabric that can be removed or opened to permit
easy quick access by many people at the same time.
A wooden shelf above the robes will permit the double-
sided hooks to be spaced far enough apart to give air to
robes and to give enough space for sections above the
robe for music folders, etc. Shelf should be supported
often so to hold the weight of what is placed on it and
what is hung below. This shelf also gives you space on
edge to label number of robe and folder assigned to
individual. If you put on the label, the robe serial
number, robe size, yoke size, you will know height/size
of individual that should wear the robe or for quick
pick up by a visiting singer.(may you have
You should give enough space for robe to hang free
to air out after use and to keep down
cleaning/pressing needs/costs. Give space for
distribution of rehearsal and performance music
folders,hymnal, etc. above the assigned robe. Use space
above to ceiling for storage of Music Library items not
in current use. [Note: our Fire Marshall requires 18" of
clearance below the ceiling.]
Do yourself and your church and especially your choir a
huge favor and talk not only with the people on the list
who may recognize problems and have ideas but with a
professional in acoustics. I know several. I spent 12
years in the audio industry designing and installing
church systems and continue to work with audio in the
area of sales. I would recommend a gentleman named Ken
Dickensheets. You can look him up at
www.dickensheets.com and find out a world of information
about him and many projects (scads of churchs) that he
has helped. As knowledgeable as those of us on this list
are (cough cough), please talk with an expert and one
whose credentials you can research. Good luck in your
search, P.J. Newsom, Jr.
Creative Music www.creativemusic.net
I am building a world class recording studio attached to
our church. The company that designed it for us built
studios for Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton,
Mariah Carey, David Letterman N.Y. studios, etc....I
recommend that you visit his site at www.rbdg.com and
study some of the links from there and do a search
on the web for acoustics.... There is more information
out there than you can ever read.
I with you well.
I don't think reading books about somewhere else will do
you much good. I would think that if you can afford it,
an acoustical consultant would be in order. If you get a
person with some experience and success, it would be
worthwhile. The next best thing to do is to find
similar situations and study how they handled their
problem. Also keep in mind your personal preferences
when it comes to how "live" you want your rehearsal
space. I want my rehearsal space slightly less "live"
than the choir loft in the sanctuary. Just as a side
light, I have a choir member who is an architect and he
says to get a rule of thumb on how sound reflective a
substance is to drop a golf ball on the surfaces in
question and measure the height of the bounce. The
reason this works is the golf ball is reflected energy
when it bounces.
This is a view from my perspective. Keep what is good
and trash the rest.
==I no nothing about acoustics, having been just a choral
singer for 40-plus years. But I can tell you what
singers like. Seated risers and COMFORTABLE
chairs. And the configuration of the risers is not so
much a "U" shape as it is a straight center section and
side wings at 60-degree angles. I am currently
President of a community chorale and we rehearse in the
Baptist Church choir rehearsal room. It is the nicest
rehearsal facility I have had the pleasure to work
with. It has rubber tile floors, no carpet, permanent
risers about 4 feet wide and a configuration like I
mentioned above. The chairs, however, could be improved
upon. There is a company that makes a "posture" chair
just for singers (Wenger).
=I encourage you to call Wenger and get their book on the
subject. I'm also in the process of building a new
choir room and it has been the greatest help. Sometimes
a Wenger rep will even come to your planning meeting at
=There is a great book on the subject that answers many
questions, including multiple uses of the choir room,
acoustics, even such details as entry and platform
access. Published by MediaExcellence.
MediaExcellence(a)aol.com / www.MediaExcellence.com
DESIGNING A MUSIC FACILITY by Paul E. Kealy
"Excellent and practical advice for those who are ready
to design or upgrade
worship environments, worship centers, platforms or
sound booths, create a
broadcast facility or remodel the choir rehearsal room
"Ideas to consider before the building goes up, or to
alter what wasn't done
right the first time."
Available from MediaExcellence(a)aol.com $7.97
==If you truly want it correct you should consult an
You want the space with less than a 2 second
reverberation rate. Any longer and you will miss
hearing mistakes in rehearsal.
==Interesting questions; one similar to that which I will
be facing in the next few months as our church
relocates. Basically, I think it boils down to two
choices. Either build the ideal rehearsal room
acoustically speaking, or build a rehearsal room that
accurately mirrors your worship center's choir loft.
I prefer the latter, for it best helps me, the choir and
accompanists to prepare for Sundays. I've been in places
where the choir room had a completely different
"feel" from the choir loft, and it can cause all kinds
For instance, in rehearsal, you finally get the choir to
sing that ppp unison ending to perfectly capture the
meaning of the lyrics. Then on Sunday morning, you find
yourself having to bring that carefully rehearsed nuance
up to an mf just to be heard in the sanctuary.
Another example: Say the rehearsal space has great
acoustics with just the right reverberation (about 1.7
sec average across the frequency spectrum, in my
opinion, as a good balance for music and speech
intelligibility). The choir hears each other well and is
readily able to blend and balance. Then they go
into a very dry, (less than 1.2 sec.) worship center
where they can't hear anyone but themselves singing. Bad
news - they'll never sound as good or as confident
as they did in rehearsal. If their rehearsal room were
as dry as the sanctuary, at least they could become
accustomed to the sound and learn to make vocal
Same goes for seating arrangement. I think it's best for
the choir's rehearsal room to have the same size and
shape, the same number of rows and seats in each row, as
the choir loft in the sanctuary. I would include even
the rise or elevation between rows, if possible.
Anything else can cause unnecessary confusion just
before a service or concert.
I'd go so far as to wish for similiar accompaniment in
the choir room and choir loft, if at all possible.
Rehearsing Jane Marshall's "My Eternal King" with a
wimpy spinet piano, and then singing on Sunday with a
big pipe organ can be a totally different experience,
even if acoustics and seating arrangements were the
same. A pipe organ in the choir room? Get real! OK, OK,
how 'bout a small Allen or Rogers to mimic what you have
in the sanctuary?
OK, that's my wish list. I think what you need is an
acoustician, someone trained in evaluating and designing
the acoustics of a space. Sorry I don't have the perfect
person to recommend, but DB Acoustics in Gainesville,
Ga. can probably either help you themselves or point you
to someone who can. Atlanta's Ivey Sound might be
Call me if you get stuck. (Office: 770-867-9255) I'll be
happy to think through things with you.
As far as room size, shape, materials and coefficients
of adsorbtion rates - because I think the choir room
should mirror the sanctuary, I think you'd be
getting the proverbial cart before the horse to decide
these things without considering your worship space.
I'd be interested in what you come up with. Others on
our list will, too, I bet.
Good luck, brother!
First Baptist Church
==I've already seen one response that says you should try
to design your room as closely to your Sanctuary choir
loft as possible.
While this may be true in looks, riser height and
seating arrangement, this is TERRIBLE advice
acoustically! I can't give you specific techniques or
acoustical info, but I will tell you this: the choir
rehearsal room needs to be as DRY as possible, to allow
you (the director) to hear mistakes that are being
made. The more reverberation a room has, the more
mistakes are hidden and the better a choir sounds.
That's a GOOD thing when singing in public, but in a
rehearsal situation you WANT to hear the mistakes so you
can do something about them. The room needs to be very
well-lit (we use an abundance of flourescent lighting
and this works well for us; I understand that halogen
lighting is very effective). The important thing is to
make sure the ENITRE room is flooded with light and
there are no dark spots or shadows. As far as
materials, use a lot of cloth/carpeting, as this will
help to make the room acoustically dry.
==We just finished building a quarter-million dollar music
room, and not knowing anything about it, I did a lot of
research on just these questions, asking many music
directors, band directors, looking at various
arrangements, reading various materials, talking with
architects, etc. I'll pass on ALL the advice I received
regardless of whether or not we used it.
First of all, the American Guild of Organists has a
good pamphlet on acoustics. Their web site is
For acoustics, hard and thick materials are best.
The hardness reflects the upper sound waves, and the
thickness reflects the lower sound waves, so a thin pane
of glass would reflect the upper sounds, and absorb the
lower ones. A good way to liven a dead ceiling is to
put a couple layers of sheetrock over it.
Remember, it is easy to dampen a bright room, but
very difficult to liven a dead room. We made our room
overly bright with that idea in mind, and once we fill
it with risers, chairs, bell tables, etc. We will
then acoustically "tune" the room.
Our room has 5/8 drywall all around, even the
ceiling. Since it is right next to the Sanctuary, we
needed to insure there was little transfer of sound.
One way to do this (we didn't do this) is to do the
following: In the wall between the two rooms, have
every other stud off center, so that the choir room side
of the wall is fastened to studs 1, 3, 5, etc., while
the Sanctuary side is fastened to the other studs (2, 4,
6 etc). This prevents the vibrations from hitting one
side, traveling through the stud, and coming out the
other side of the wall.
Usually an acoustic engineer is hired to evaluate
and test the room to determine what material and how
much is needed, depending on how bright you want it.
The higher the ceiling the better (more space for
sound, and temp control). We have a 14 1/2 foot ceiling!
For sound deadening, thick heavy cloth is best.
There are a variety of methods for deadening your
surfaces: There are your basic acoustical panels
fastened to walls and ceilings. You could have large
curtains which can be drawn across a wall and then drawn
back in an enclosed space for "control" over the
acoustics. Also, you could have reversible panels
(hard on one side, cloth on the other). These can
either be hinged like a shutter, or manually reversed in
a frame that is fastened to the wall.
I'm going to ask the quilters of the church to quilt
some nice music-themed quilts for decoration and sound
We have two robe rooms for men and women. Each
room is 10' square. There will be large mirrors in each
room. Also, the women's room will have small keyed
lockers for purse storage. A robe room I saw last week
had a small bathroom inside each robe room. Wish I had
done that, but then, we have bathrooms right across the
hallway. For robe hanging, there is a hook for each
robe so that they don't get mixed up, and another hook
for anyone wearing a coat. There will be shelves above.
This other room I mentioned had slots above for vertical
storage of folders and hymnals, but I have a large metal
cabinet that stores them horizontally. This sits on a
wood base with casters that can be wheeled about. I may
or may not build doors to secure the music, or I may just
wheel it into one of the lockable robe rooms.
The acoustical jury of the world is still out on
wall shape, but they are all pretty much in agreement
that a shallow zigzag wall provides excellent bounce
angles for the sound. Our room has straight walls, but
the location of storage closets and other things adds
enough angles to give good mix of the sound (I hope!).
One said that the best shape is a long narrow space with
high ceiling, choir singing at one end. (Like
many older church sanctuaries).
Depending on your walls and ceiling (and shape and
size thereof), it may or may not make much difference
what kind of floor material you have. We have carpet in
the choir area and tile in the adjoining "conversation
area." The room is still too bright, but as mentioned,
that's easy to change. Some said that wood floors are
best, and I tend to agree, but maintenance, wear and
cleaning are also factors to consider in flooring.
How much reverb? The only way to answer that is to
say "how much do you want?" I like a brighter room, but
not too bright. However, I wanted the acoustics to
match those of the Sanctuary (which is very
poor), so that the choir wouldn't be uncomfortable when
moving back and forth, but at the same time we plan on
having the Sanctuary renovated some time in the future,
and I will be fighting to get rid of the carpet!
The music room will then have to be altered to again
reflect the acoustics of the sanctuary.
For lighting, we went with a fantastic system! The
lights are florescent, but they are suspended from the
ceiling and shine upward.
This reflects from the ceiling and gives a good light
everywhere, if the ceiling and upper walls are bright
white. Also, there is no glare at all, so you can hold
your music at any angle and see it very well. We
made sure there was plenty of light, and that it was
close enough to the walls so that those with their backs
to the walls were getting plenty of light.
Risers: For me, I didn't find any commercial risers
that met every need I had. I wanted 3 1/2 foot deep
risers, and all commercial risers are either 3' or 4'
deep. I also wanted 6" high levels, to match what is
currently in our Sanctuary. I liked the idea of
permanent risers because we have no reason to move them,
but went with portable anyway! Our risers are in a
straight line since the wall is straight, but ideally I
would like to have some curve to it.
Regarding a basic philosophy to music rooms, if another
group wants to use the music room for something else,
they can adjust to our arrangement, but we did NOT want
to build this room with the idea of it being
a "multipurpose room that the music department uses."
It is "the music room built to music specifications"
that others groups are free to use. Don't compromise
your needs to fit other "possible" uses.
If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate
to Email me.
Good luck and God Bless.
Josh & Nancy Peterson - Directors of Music
First United Presbyterian Church
1303 Royal Heights Road // Belleville, IL 62258
(618)-233-0295 (church) // (618)-233-0490 (fax)
(618)-566-7375 (home) // joshandnancy(a)juno.com
==I recommend two sources.
1. Wenger Corporation (I can't remember their web
address) has consultants who can help with nearly any
design problems. Since they're music specialists, they
have acoustics in mind. They will also have suggestions
regarding risers and their impact on acoustics.
2. MENC [Music Educators National Conference] (I think
their web address is www.menc.org) has published a
book on music facilities. It includes ideas regarding
remodels as well as new builds.
If you haven't already done so, call MENC (703-860-4000)
and ask for the latest edition of "Music Facilities:
Building, Equipping, and Renovating". It's a good
resource for a project like yours. I used it to work
with an architect in the design for the music and stage
facilities of Fairfax High School, in Northern Virginia,
back in 1970. The results were first class, tailor-made
to our specs.
Acoustical science is a black art, and results in any
given situation can't really be predetermined. I would
say lose the rug, make sure the ceiling and floor are
not flat and parallel with each other, nor the side
walls parallel with each other. Get an expert's on-site
advice on optimum wall and ceiling treatment that's best
for your situation. Good luck. Fred
Wygal/fredw27(a)aol.com MENC is located at: 1806 Robert
Fulton Drive, Reston, VA 22091
==I think that seeing/hearing good rooms is the best way
to decide what you need.
You should call David Brensinger at Holy Innocents'
Episcopal on Mt. Vernon and check out his choir room.
I am a staff bass there and love singing for him. His
choir room is one of the best I have ever rehearsed in.
The choir can hear itself quite well, and the director
can hear EVERYTHING the choir does (this can be good and
bad!) The space is also quite well suited for chamber
==My best advice would be to duplicate as best you can,
the acoustics and configuration of your sanctuary. The
best choir rehearsal rooms I have ever been associated
with are the ones that are nearly a duplicate of the
choir area in the sanctuary. When singers/musicians get
used to the rehearsal room, then there are no surprises
on Sunday morning. I realize that there are ideals for
acoustics, non-parallel walls, floor and ceiling
material, etc. but when we are dealing with our church
choirs, I find it best to not have changes from weekday
to Sunday. In my way of thinking, it is like a piano
student practicing all week long on an old clunker of a
piano and then going for a lesson on the teacher's
finely tuned and regulated piano. They think there is
something wrong with the teacher's piano because it
isn't what they are used to. (Sorry for the analogy -
I'm also a former piano technician.)
==Go to http://www.armstrong.com. Not only will you find
explanations and recommended values for various wall and
ceiling coverings (I learned that tiles are rated in NRC
values - Noise Reduction Coefficient), but you will also
find numbers to talk to their reps. You can send them the
exact dimensions of your space and they will recommend
solutions. They were very helpful when we redid our
parallel walls reflect, non parallel diffuse. What do
you want the room
How much reverberation is most desireable?
Some, but not too much. Rehearsals can be noisier than
services, and you don't want to struggle over the
chatter. I would suggest that under a second would still
be better than the dead spaces that most designers
create these days. If you aren't sure, try installing
some variable factor, like curtains that open to reveal
hard surface and close to deaden the space, or panels
that do the same. This is a luxury - you can
get by just fine with a mildly resonant room.
everyone is trying to do flourescent these days. there
is a daylight flourescent that is much healthier to the
human nervous system than the cool white ones. The bulbs
are more expensive but they last longer, so it works out.
> Should I build seated risers in a "U" shape or straight
> lines? Should I build permanent seated risers or buy
> portable ones?
If you don't have flexibility as to where your choir
sits in the sanctuary, than you will have less need for
portability in your rehearsal hall, but as much as I
like having curved, terraced levels in my classroom,
there are times that they defeat truly flexible
arrangements in rehearsal. Permanent chairs are worse.
Even if you have rising levels of floor, keep the seats
portable. Some rehearsals are just better with the
chairs stacked in the corner.
The Wenger corporation, the folks who make all of the
choir risers, shells, etc. publishes a book on music
space design and acoustics. You can get their 800
number from the web, i am sure. It is an excellent
book. They also have consultants who are glad to speak
with archetects, etc. They were very helpful in working
with me in designing new music space for my school.
END OF COMPILATION. THANKS TO ALL!
Tony Bernard, Music Ministries Director
St. Andrew United Methodist Church
3455 Canton Rd.
Marietta, Ga 30066
Following are responses I received re finishing our new choral room. I
appreciate the time and thought each of these respondents took to assist me in
>The church I work at has just built a second-story addition to accommodate >
classrooms. I was told today (out of the blue) that they want to move the
Choir >Room into one of these new classrooms. This is OK with me, because we are
>basically in a classroom now, and this new room is slightly bigger (560 sq.
ft.), >rectangular instead of square, has a higher ceiling, and actually has
windows (we >are currently in the basement).
>My dilemma is this: finishing work on the room starts NEXT WEEK! They are >
willing to consider suggestions I have for finishing to make this room as
music->friendly as possible, all things considered. I am asking for any knowledge
you can >share re specific materials for walls and ceilings. (I was told the
floor would be >carpeted. . .) The room also will be used by
instrumentalists, and shares a wall >with a classroom.
I had a similar situation arise when my high school added a new wing, and
put in a "choral room." I was fortunate enough to see the plans just before
they "broke ground," and got high ceilings by having them dig down an extra
eight feet. That was a start. Since you have "high" ceilings, you have a
decent chance to make this work. Would they consider carpeting only part of
the room, perhaps the area where student chairs would go, and leaving some
of the floor hard surface? I suggest leaving the walls and ceiling hard as
well, until you can use the room. Then, perhaps, if it's too live, the
judicious addition of some draperies, even where there are no windows, if
necessary, can deaden the room to an acceptable level. Drapes can also be
pushed aside when you want a livelier room for singers, and drawn to deaden
for the instrumentalists, if need be.
Ask them to put any funds they have for "acoustic" material in an account
that you can draw on later as you see how much drapery you need to adjust
the acoustics. This worked for me. I spent less than they had anticipated in
the long run. We "finished" the room before the first year was over.
Can you convince them to tile the floor instead of
carpet? Go for as many hard surfaces plaster, plaster board, as you
can. Ask for chairs, rather than desks, they may not have thought about
chairs at all. Really go for a hard surfaced floor, though! If you
can't get that, be sure to ask for an expensive dolly for the piano so
that you can move it on the carpet, then say it would be cheaper to tile
the floor or even use wood.
I would suggest you use indoor/outdoor carpet. It's easier on the
feet, wears longer, less sound absorption. Try to get as much
insulation as possible in the wall adjacent to the other classroom. Do
NOT "popcorn" the ceiling. Wait until you are in before adding more
sound absorption materials.
Good luck to you. I hope you enjoy your new space.
If you could convince those in charge to put a hard surface on the floor, it
would be to your singer's advantage. In my opinion, carpet really makes the
acoustic properties of the room way too dry for singing. Regarding the floor
and walls, just as hard as possible: standard drywall is good for the walls.
If they use a drop ceiling, try to find a reflective rather than absorbing
material for the panels. Most non musicians are interested in using materials
that absorb sounds so that whatever "noise" is made in that room stays in that
room without seeping into other rooms. This is, of course, not conducive to
By the way, I think the cost of linoleum or vinyl is comparable to carpet.
For a room of 560sf, this should not be a significant issue.
Once you are in the room, and it seems "too live", you can hang some drapes
or other material on a couple of the walls to absorb some sound, but I doubt
this would be needed.
Also, some may think that this rehearsal room should be sterile like a
recording studio. Not so for acoustic choirs.
It is AWFUL to rehearse in a space that is too dead for the singers to hear
themselves (and thus judge what they're doing). If you can possibly get to
Wenger Corporation or find a web site that covers this information, that
would be great. At least...
1. Get them to change the flooring to something harder than carpetanything
would be better!
2. Put two layers of drywall to make the surface harder and more reflective.
3. The higher the ceiling, the better. (I think the ideal height for a
choral rehearsal room is 14 feet.)
Go for hard and thick walls. The hardness reflects the upper partials,
the thickness, the lower partials. 2 inches of marble would be ideal,
but not quite cost-effective. A little cheaper alternative would be
double-thick drywall, or as thick as you can get it. Really, the basic
principle is to make the room as bright (acoustically) as you can,
because it's very easy to darken the sound. However, if you have a dark
room, it's impossible to brighten it.
My choir room (which I actually got to design) also has carpet in it, but
I used thick drywall everywhere, even on the ceilings. It turned out to
be a bit too bright, so I bought a couple pretty quilts from Garden
Ridge, and hung them on the walls. Problem solved, and much, much
cheaper than professionally installed acoustical tiles.
Good for younice getting out of the dungeon!! Here are some things to
- keep the room as flexible as possible. Although built-in risers seem
like a good idea, it may limit your seating.
- stereo hook-ups for CD recording and playback of your choir...I think
this is very important. When I record my choir with playback, they seem
to response more quickly than when I make the same comment.
- consider hanging inverted mic stands which are mounted to the ceiling
- consider hanging wall speakers permanently on the walls...this takes
up less space and makes somewhat harder for someone to steal.
- upright chairs that encourage proper posture. Most chairs are built at
an angle, which encourages poor posture.
-mirrors for singers to check their posture and facial position
-chalkless boards for writing and other visual communications
-consider a semi-circle seating formation, if space allows. I think
singers hear much better when facing each other, as opposed to straight
rows. Actually, I like a full circlethen they really listen to each
Thank God they asked you, even on short notice. You
want maximum sound reflection. If, heaven forbid,
it's too live, you can always throw a rug on the floor
or put heavy curtains on the windows.
1. NIX the carpet, and try to get ceramic tile - you
can prob. find some cheap. Barring that, get the
hardest plastic you can get your hands on. Hardwood
is good too, but expensive.
2. See if they can alter the ceiling the make it hard
too, tho that's more difficult I expect. It's prob.
composite drop-in biz.
3. If they will plaster and paint the walls, that's
the best, or ceramic tile. Otherwise, try to get the
hardest, most reflective material. No fuzzy
Good luck, and congrats on getting out of the
Again, thank you to all.