Acoustic advice needed for performance in gym
Date: December 19, 2013
I teach music K-6 and choir, and strive--within the limitations of the elementary school environment--for high level choral singing. My classroom has satisfactory acoustics, but our only performance space is a huge open gym, 105 x 80 feet, with poorer acoustics than any other gym I've had to use. As with all of these spaces, the walls are so far away, and the reverberation so long, that the singers can't hear themselves. I know a shell would help vocal production by the singers, but is this worth buying when the sound still goes out into an unimproved, cavernous gym? I know carpet and acoustical panels would help, but don't know where to begin. Does anyone have advice, preferably based on experience, about effective modifications I can make and install myself on a very low budget? Are any of you acoustical engineers?
We have no budget for any of this, so the cost would be born by donations, the PTA and myself. I am a carpenter of long experience, and aware of the building codes, the requirements for fireproof materials, and the necessity of clearing any work with the physical plant people in the school district, so my question is only about possible acoustic improvements. We also have a large theater stage (concrete and block) centered on, and projecting beyond, the 105 foot long side. This is unimproved and unused, except for storage, and available to me to use with a shell, either portable, or made to fit and permanently installed.
There must be some general acoustical rules that apply. Here are some specific questions that have come to mind: Is there a certain percentage of wall that must be covered? A specific shape, size and orientation of ceiling panels? What if we temporarily rolled out carpet over the unused floor area in front of the shell and beyond the chairs? Would it help to hang 10 x 10 foot squares of canvas or flannel vertically over the closed bleachers? How much would it help if we surrounded the seating area with those folding, rolling, portable dividers made for school use? How much less effective is a portable, plastic shell, compared to a totally enclosed, customized wooden shell?
Thanks for any advice you can give.
Humboldt Elementary School
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