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What's the best Podium?

Dear Choralist,

Less than a day ago I asked about replacing our squeaky podium. I have eighteen
replies to compile, all useful and thoughtful!

Obviously _Consumer Reports_ needs to do a survey on podiums. I'm also shopping for
an ice cream freezer, and based on the evaluations I'm reading of freezers and
podiums, I've concluded that instead of spending $238 on a Wenger Folding Podium, I
should spend $200 on the no-salt, no-ice, no-pre-freezing-the-cannister ice cream
maker that I want, and then go tell a carpenter friend that I'll make him a batch of
homemade ice cream every week for a year if he'll build me a podium.

Meanwhile, podium replies arrived in three categories:
(1) Two people endorse the Wenger Folding Podium.
(2) Ten sent excellent advice on homemade podiums, plus one recommended both Wenger
and homemade.
(3) Five advised that their Wenger Folding Podiums also squeaked within a year of

Here are the answers in the first two categories:

1. For Wenger:

Jim Herbert, Music Maestro Please

Of course that podium is worth all of the money -- it'll out last you by about 100
years -- and that's the truth! No squeaks unless you add one or two :) and with the
fold up abillity, you can hide it anywhere -- even in a very large purse!

Ruth McKendree Treen (Chatham MA)

I can't tell you about other podiums, Nina, but my summer pops chorus presented me
with a new podium last year -- it's the Wenger that you describe. I had been
stacking boxes on top of boxes, etc. It is beautifully engineered -- the engineers
in my chorus raved about it. I love the optional railing on the back -- it's nice
for backing-up reassurance and also for "gracefully" turning around occasionally when
I have to face the audience. It's something to hang on to when I step up and down,
also, which is nice to have, even though I could manage without it -- but now that
it's there, I find I use it often. I'm even thinking of getting the additional
platforms to take me up one more notch, when that's needed. I know it's expensive,
but you'll be very happy with it. P.S. I don't work for Wenger.

2. Homemade:

Trevor La Cost (Arkansas> Valley Wind & Percussion Ensemble):

We made our podium out of nice heavy wood and put nice carpeting on it. It worked
out very well. I've also seen someone attach a handle to the top side and rollers
along the back that would make it easy to carry.

Pat Maimone:

Try some WD 40.. Podia/podiums are hard to come by.
Do any of your singers do carpentry? How about their significant others?

Holly Reynolds Friendship UMC, MD

Just wanted to let you know that I use a wooden box as a podium and I've had no
trouble at all. My shoes tend to be loud, but a piece of carpeting on the top takes
care of the problem. Because I direct church choirs in a sanctuary, no one can see
the podium so appearance isn't an issue. I guess you could always dress it up a bit
if you wanted it to be visually appealing.
But-- my wooden box is great! :-)

Jason Clark Shorewood Schools and Shorewood Choral Arts Society,Wisconsin

What I have done is contracted a carpenter to make me two. One for my rehearsal
space and the other for our concert hall. Both are wonderful, beautiful, squeek free
and cost me less than two hundred dollars for both and one of them is a beautiful
cherry wood.

Heather A. Hamilton, Meetinghouse Orchestra

I went through the same situation searching for a podium. After much research I
found the Wegner folding podium. I decided the money would be well spent on this
podium due tot he following reasons: 1. It is light-weight 2. easy to store 3.
solid construction 4. carpeted on the top! 5. looks much more professional than a
basic wooden box.

Dr. Tim Brimmer

Podiums squeak when two or more boards are forced to rub against each other.
Building a square frame with inside bracing, and THEN screwing the "floor" boards on
top of the frame should eliminate this problem. I would also suggest stapling a
rugged outdoor carpet to dampen the sound of your feet, and possibly cutting out a
handle hole in each side to carry it. This should cost no more than $40 for
high-quality materials using the dimensions of your choice. To protect the floor,
you may also want to cover the bottom edge with felt floor protectors, which will
also absorb some of the sound. I would suggest placing the podium on a matted carpet
to insure YOUR stability while conducting.

Find a carpenter in your choir, or a choir member's carpenter-spouse to do this for
you, explaining your height, width and depth dimensions, and how you need for it to
be portable, sturdy and squeakless. Tell them you'll need to test it with him/her
present before you use it. Test it by running at it and jumping on it from every

It should take no more than an hour to build, and a three days for staining and
varnishing, if you wanted the wood exposed.

Jim Larrabee, Countryside Community Church

Here's something I learned from Don Morrison of the Augustana Choir. He built his
own. Just a sturdy half-inch to three-quarter inch thick board about two and a half
feet square. Cover it with an acceptable piece of carpet and edge it with metal
floor trim. On the bottom, in each corner, screw down threaded metal pipe fittings.
Into these fittings you can screw precut threaded metal pipe podium "legs." You may
have four six inch legs and four twelve inch legs. This way you can adjust depending
on how high you need to be for the choir to see you. Also, you the short legs on the
front and the long legs on the back and thereby "straddle" a step and still be level
without having to use blocks or books to prop up the short end on the step. Keep the
legs separate in a tool box. Screw a handle in the centered on the bottom of the
board and it travels easily.

Tova Reshef

I don't think you need more than a simple wooden box. Ask one of the more-nice
singers to make you one, so: you will have two birds - you won't pay so much, and you
will make this singer feel so good! -

Dan Abraham, American University (Washington, DC)

American University just went through the same inquiry. Having looked at all
suppliers (including one in England), we decided to just have one build to our own
specification by a carpenter. It ended up costing $325 in materials and labour. What
we had built is very large (46x46) and tall (10 inches). You could certainly get away
with less (36 x 36 x 6 (or 8) seems to be fairly standard. It is exceptional--sturdy,
a bit heavy, but will likely not squeak for a decade or more!

It seems most orchestras have them custom made as no commercial enterprise that we
could find, makes a serious and stable podium. The Wenger folding podium is great for
touring, but for a more serious unit, look to talking with a local handyperson or
carpenter who can build something for the department.

Dale Voelker

get someone to build a box with a carpet on it. Dont forget the padding!

Steve Mulder, Gordon College

Beware anything "folding" as the folding parts are the ones that will eventually
squeak. A homemade wooden box seems to be a better solution if you have a handyman
willing to make something for you.

In general, Wenger products are expensive and are usually very worth the cost (IF
you have the resources). But even the best Wenger products will wear out sooner or
later and we are left with squeaks.

Thanks to all! I'll let you know when I have a new homemade podium and some photos
of it online. Now I'm going back to reading about ice cream makers and trying to see
which of those makes the least noise.


Nina Gilbert


| Nina Gilbert
| gilbertn(a)
| Director of Choral Activities, Lafayette College
| Easton, Pennsylvania 18042-1768
| phone 610-330-5677
| fax 610-330-5058
| Choir tour snapshots:
| -------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks to all who responded to my posting which was as follows:

I am interested in hearing positive endorsements for a solid, quiet
conductor podium. I have tried both the Wenger fold-up and their more
Study two-level podium with a rail. Both squeak with the slightest weight

All but two responses suggested I build my own. One person recommended
Stage Right, the other said that if my podium squeaks, I should re-evaluate
my conducting technique...

Wyant Morton

on June 24, 2003 10:00pm
Keith Brion (oh my God- a band conductor) uses a styrofoam podium with a piece of plywood on top of and below the styrofoam. Its all covered in carpet, and its the most comfortable podium Ive ever stood on. Its completely sturdy and is lightweight also.

Robert Stumpf
Platteville, Wisconsin
on June 25, 2003 10:00pm
Isn't styrofoam squeaky?

on January 24, 2007 10:00pm
Sorry, I forgot to say that i cannot find a pattern to make a podium and was wondering if you could give some advise.
on January 24, 2007 10:00pm
My daughter is a new H.S. teacher and she asked me if I could make her a podium to lecture from. She just got her own classroom and one of the older teachers took the podium because her's was broken.She teaches history and religous studies and I would like to build her one to last and would be made by "her dad." Thank You, Fred Pfrimmer