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ideal rehearsal room

What would your ideal rehearsal room have in it and how would it be laid out?  Thank you!
Replies (13): Threaded | Chronological
on May 28, 2015 12:59pm
an escape route?!  haha just joking!
 
To some extent the answer would really depend on the size and type of group, and the place in which they are rehearsing. But here are some thoughts...
 
Definitely multiple dry erase boards, including some of the kind that have staff lines on them, and some that do not. Also one of those smart board things. I've never used one but I've seen them used online and I can think of all sorts of great ways to use it.
definitely some mirrors, placed in such a way that I could have the singers looking at them while singing; but equally important I would not want them looking into the mirrors all the time, because I think it could become distracting.
Definitely a good stereo system. Also it would be great to have video and audio recording capability - that could be a really useful tool.
Chairs that easily stack.
Music stands and a storage rack for the stands. We had enough stands for everyone at one church where I served, and it was nice to have the singers NOT holding the music in their laps.
 
Those are some things that immediately come to mind. By no means is this list comprehensive, but these are some things I have really wished for in my current rehearsal room.
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 28, 2015 3:04pm
Hmmm... the ideal rehearsal room...
I prefer room risers, in a room with high ceilings nad lots of wall storage fror sheet music, awards, instruments, etc. 
I prefer a small director's office with a big window into the room.  They can see me, and I can see them. 
On balance, I prefer a room with good acoustics... be sure this is built into the new room (... it isn't always!!).  The use and placement of wall materials and mirrors are going to affect the acoustics.  Be careful!! 
I have used white boards with dry erase markers, and the markers never last long... in my current position, I have one massive chalk board -- and have been finding it to be preferable to any other more recent inventions.  (On the other hand, despite many allergies, I was never allergic to chalk dust...).  Smartboards are only viable solutions when they resolve problems of the chalk- and white-board, but do not create more problems.  Sometimes, a smartboard has helped... sometimes it has been part of the problem.  (Make sure the software really works for your applications, and is not just an academic S/W package that has been reworked for the unique needs of a music application!!)
Decent stereo system, yes...
Video/audio recording capability, yes but better equipment can be borrowed from the school's IMC/Library...
Music stands, for singers and instrumentalists, yes...
Storage rooms, for instruments and music libraries, that can double as practice rooms...
 
 ~ Ron Isaacson
Applauded by an audience of 2
on May 29, 2015 7:52am
There's a great deal I would suggest, but the nose important one: make sure the angle of curvature of the risers is what you want. I spent 12 years in a rehearsal room where the angles were too small, and singers were facing each other. It creates problems with balance and is wasted space. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 29, 2015 8:01am
Valiant Music Supply has a great selection of music room equipment and furnishings, mostly made in the USA, and all at great discount prices.
Give me a call and I'll be happy to help you with any questions you may have.  http://www.valiantmusic.com/index.html#preview
on May 29, 2015 9:56am
I have a brand new Choir room that I think is pretty ideal. It is a large open space with white boards along the front wall. Technology integrated into the entire room. Two smaller practice rooms and two larger ensemble practice rooms. Ideal acoustics with a high ceiling and well placed acoustic panels hanging from the ceiling and only a few on the wall. Lots of natural light as well. We have Wenger Seated Risers that we can easily move around if we need to, and we just put in a baby grand paino. Also a sink with a drinking fountain in the room (didn't have that in the old room). My only complaints about the room are cosmetic in nature. The material used for the floor and the colors of the room overall are not ideal, but I'll deal with that in order to have everything else! 
on May 30, 2015 5:48am
I realize your question was more directed to room layout and things you would need in the room, but I think the very most important element is ceiling height. According to the acoustics experts, ideal ceiling height for a choral room is 14 - 20 feet. Mine is a little taller than 12 feet and it's fine. Once I tried to teach in a room with 7 and 1/2 foot ceilings and it was a disaster. (Couldn't hear a thing, and I was constanting hoarse from trying too hard to demonstrate a good sound.) Also make sure the surfaces in the room are not too soft (or too hard).
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 30, 2015 5:10pm
I once attended a meeting in a beautiful new choir room.  Then they turned on the air conditioning.  The 'condenser yard,' with all the exterior units for all the air conditioners in the entire fine arts suite, was right by the conveniently located exterior door.  Since this is in Texas, for most of the year the choir would have to contend with the roar of about 15 units all running in unison.  So check on a/c for noise, both inside and out.
on June 1, 2015 12:07pm
Adding on to previous suggestions:
1.  I have a whiteboard, but prefer chalkboards.  Removing and replacing marker caps drives me nuts.  When I want to write, I want to pick something up and write.
2.  Whether whiteboard or chalkboard, get the multiple-sliding-panel type, both with and without music staffs.  This may have to be custom made, but will allow you to save multiple diagrams and notations you have made--invaluable when your next rehearsal with that group is three days later, or--in my case--when I have three more 5th and 6th grade classes later in the week.  I recommend three panels 6-8' wide fixed to the wall, sided by side; and in front of that, 2 sliding panels in front of each of the left and right fixed panels.
3.  Regarding noise--If you are able to design this room before it's built, be sure to ask about noise BEFOREHAND and change the specs if necessary.  Just because a company or an architect CLAIMS to be experienced in designing music spaces.....well, "It ain't necessarily so..."  In my room, there is soft blower noise coming out of the ceiling ducts anytime the heat or air conditioning is on.  I wouldn't find this at all objectionable if I were teaching a different subject, but it's too much in a music room, and I'm frequently turning it on and off depending on what activity we're doing.  What about rooms next door--is there or will there be a shop or repair area there, or a utility room where other employees take breaks and talk?  Will any wall penetrations be sealed to stop sound transmission?  Is the wall actually made to acoustical standards, or is it just regular construction?  What about sound transmitted through the overhead utility or crawl spaces?  Can you choose the location of this room, so it doesn't face the football field or the highway?
on June 2, 2015 3:38am
For those of us on the church side, how many choirs get/would prefer to rehearse in their "performance" space, namely the choir "loft".  I can see the advantage of not taking up another space merely for rehearsals if the sanctuary/chapel would work.  Rehearsal aids such as boards or screens may not be as accessible (and certainly not permanent), but there may be something to be said for practicing in your presentation environment.  (I may be talking myself out of the "choir room" and into the sanctuary for rehearsals - we have movable chairs, piano, organ, better acoustics since I pressed hard for having a solid wood floor for the choir loft instead of carpet - now if I can just figure out how to unlock the thermostat!)
on June 2, 2015 2:32pm
I think there are advantages and disadvantages, depending on the space. Our sanctuary is very bright in the daytime due to many clear glass windows; but at night (i.e. at rehearsal time) it is dreadfully dark due to inadequate lighting. Also in our sanctuary the organ and piano are nowhere near one another; so you are limited to rehearsing with one or the other, but not both unless you are moving the whole group around. What I prefer is to have most rehearsals in our choir room, and then have the occasional rehearsal in the sanctuary.
on June 17, 2015 9:31am
it occurs to me that I'd like to add that my ideal rehearsal space is flexible in the way that it can be set up. I am dealing with small groups (under 20 singers) and I like to vary the way they are seated occasionally. One of my favorite things to do is to have them rehearse in a circle a few times per year. Since our rehearsal space is small with dead acoustics, this really changes how they hear one another in rehearsal. Also sitting in this arrangement helps me to remember to get out from behind the piano. If we had risers that were either permanent or difficult to move, I would be a lot less likely to experiment with different seating plans.
on June 18, 2015 8:31am
I had a good room in a former job.  There were just a few things frustrating, and wished-for. (I'll describe below how, if the whole room were reversed in its relative position to the hall, things would likely have been much better.)   I'll list all 3.
What I liked/found quite helpful was:
1.Good acoustics, but not overly-live tile.  Carpet had been removed by a wise former director.
 2. Adjacent practice/storage rooms (varied sizes , with doors, to keep sound from bleeding through. ) Some had built -in hanger rods for uniforms and costumes; dress height and pants/shirt height.  Ideally, these rooms would have all formed a circle/square around the main room, and had windows so that I could monitor as S,A,T,B, sections leaders led rehearsal.
3. White/very light grey walls and surfaces - reflected plenty of light, and we could decorate however we wished. (See caveat below)
4. Some acoustic material covered with beige fabric (on certain parts of the wall) that, if we were careful to use straight pins with colored ends, (safe/easy to find if dropped) place the pins pointing downward so as to only puncture the fabric, not the acoustic material, it doubled as a bulletin board.  (We had no other usable posting wall surface.)
5. Built-in seated risers, in a curve (so that singers on the edge naturally faced director.), and plenty of room in front of them, for choreography and tighter ensembles (as Julie mentions.)
6. Proximity to my office, with window.  (See caveat below)
7.  Proximity to rest room/water fountain. (Adolescent girls and pregnant teachers appreciated this! ) As singers learn to support a tone, active abdominal muscles may cause unexpected, extra bladder pressure.  Also, singing quick-rhythmic passages may dry out the vocal folds a bit, needing water.  The fact that we had a little "hall" that turned off from the main hall, and the water fountain/rest room was there, helped us to monitor our young musicians, and keep distracting interaction to a minimum.  (We shared this with band, orchestra, art and dance - mixed blessing! )
8. Proximity to Main Office.  This school-district was in a disadvantaged area, and many students carried strong issues/academic/behavior challenges.  If all else failed, and I had to send someone out, I could stick my head out the door, and be sure that they actually got there.
What I longed for:
I always wished they had built the risers facing away from the hall and doorway  (caveat to #2) That way, if an immature teen passed by making faces, or a parent/administrator entered,  I would see it, but the students would not.  As it was, they saw these things before I could. (My back was to the door as I directed.)  I finally faced the piano sideways where my left was toward the door to monitor, and the students were facing me (their left toward the risers.)  This helped some.  But I always felt that the entire choral suite was designed backwards, and needed to be reversed.  Also, the pass-through for folder-filling (little 4x8 wooden shelves built into the wall, so that someone could stand in the choral-file room and fill folders, for each "numbered" box, or pass music through the openings) was a mixed blessing.  I think I would rather have had that part closed off; young personalities get too curious about what is in others' folders.
Natural light from a ceiling skylight (since window lighting will change throughout the day, and may become the wrong angle).  However, the white surfaces helped "cheer" and light the room.
Poster rack, or something we could nail posters/reminders to,. (caveat to # 3 above)  Things fall off painted concrete, regardless of claims from store personnell.  ;/
My office faced a small entrance hall/breezeway, cutting off sightlines to half the choral room.  With a different/reversed design, I could have monitored the class better from the office.
A colleague in another county got his "ideal room" - complete with recording equipment at his fingertips, etc.  ... to find, as they moved into the year, that the heat/air ducts made a random "squeak" when they adjusted for air flow.  The squeak was often a quarter-tone/half-step or so from the rehearsed key.  Annoying for the students.  Drove my colleague nuts.
You own, separate temp-control might be desired.
There is another discussion of this in a former Choralnet conversation.
Congrats on this opportunity, Anne, and Best Wishes for your program !
-Lucy
on June 18, 2015 12:18pm
Anne, The ideal reh. room is the space in which you perform with said group. Since this is not always available, especially in a school situation; as much face time as you can in the hall is next best. The jury is out on whether it's better to rehearse in a drier sonic space or one that approximates your eventual performance venue. Usually the bigger the better for sound. A high ceiling shoe box is best. I like risers for the choir but the downside is the inflexibility of the set up. If the music has a slow harmonic rhythm, then reverb is what you want. If you are doing a lot of high DB jazz or contemporary music with lots of digital instruments or amps, the hall is best with sound absorbing materials. I have written extensively about a successful Compline Choir set up and find the choice of space/Nave trumps any other sonic considerations. Of course we're all analog, a cappella, all men or all women, all the time. I read where the best large group proscenium arch ceiling number 41 feet. Many of the great halls I've performed in around the world have that magic number. There is always that tradeoff between a live, noisy space; and a dead, unadorned, clear sounding space. If you are in a position to dictate what size and shape the rehearsal hall is going to be, go around the city and audition as many spaces as you can to see what works and what doesn't. jefe
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