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Curtain for Choir Room??

My choir room at the high school is very nice and spacious, with good acoustics and a nice sound system. We also have a wall mirror that faces the students, which is great when they need to look at themselves to rehearse visual performance aspects. However, the other 92% of the time the mirror is a nuisance and a distraction for most of the kids. The boys are tempted to goof off and make faces at the other boys, and the girls fix their hair in the mirror and mouth messages to one another in class. I would love to know what all of you do to remedy this problem. I feel like I'm not the only one, so is there a pre-made curtain I can purchase somewhere? If not, has anyone made one? I thought maybe heavy duty brackets in the wall with hooks and a metal rod, along with some nice velvet or drapery material might make nice curtains. But, the mirror is very tall and spans across nearly the entire room. 
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on June 13, 2015 7:23am
One thing to keep in mind is that a curtain would alter the acoustics of the room considerably, especially considering the large area it would cover based on your description. There are fabrics that are more or less acoustically transparent, such as speaker grillcloth, but they tend to be thin and might be easily torn. Ordinary drapery fabrics, especially heavy ones like velvet, wouldn't be a good choice for the acoustics.
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on June 13, 2015 9:47am
Leigh,
 
I assume you have permanent seating risers? If not, you've got the obvious option of having the choir face the opposite wall....
 
However, odds are you've got seating risers, so... If all psychosocial/behavioral avenues are fruitless, you might consider tall vertical blinds on a track (or two). These are made of hard plastic and would maintain similar acoustics in the space (they might even improve the acoustics since they'll offer slightly angled and variable sound refraction, compared to a mirror). 
 
Best of luck, and keep us posted!
 
Tom
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on June 13, 2015 11:20am
Just a note about fabric if you choose to take that route - All fabrics in schools must be certified flame-retardant and you must keep a copy of the certifcate on file so the fire marshall doesn't make you take them down.
 
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on July 29, 2015 3:20pm
Good point.
on June 13, 2015 2:40pm
Thanks for the speedy replies, and for the great advice. I hadn't even gotten so far as to think about the acoustical properties of the fabric. I will look into some appropriate materials. I do have 'show choir' risers that can be taken apart and moved. However, they are extremely cumbersome to move so, it's an option, I would just need to be sure I won't be needing the mirrors for awhile. Our room was designed with both singing and choreography in mind, but I did not design it and we do minimal choreography these days....Thanks again!
on June 14, 2015 10:24am
I had the same problem. I used colored butcher paper to cover the mirrors. No acoustic issues, problem solved.
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on June 15, 2015 10:12am
Best idea.  Look around the work/supply room on your campus, or talk to the art teacher.  I bet somewhere there are huge rolls of bulletin board paper.  And it would be free.  Use blue painter's tape to put it up.
on June 16, 2015 7:38pm
Leigh,
 
This was a problem where I am currently the ass't. vocal music director.  The mirrors are on one side of the room.  Kids just couldn't stay out of them and also looked at each other during rehearsals.  High school students are too young/immature to handle mirrors.  This past summer, the head director picked up fabric(JoAnn Fabrics) after she measured the mirrors.  There were 8 side-by-side panels.  A secretary made eight sections and put small velcro strips on each fabric panel.  The head director and myself then put velcro on the metal at the top of each mirror and hung the curtains.  They are very, very lightweight and look great(a beige color to compliment the room).  Rehearsals had 100% improvement in the students' focus.  These very light-weight fabric panels did NOT change the acoustics at all in the room.  We even asked the students who had previously been in choir if they agreed that they goofed off a lot and were unfocused; they mostly all said "yes"!  For the show choir, once they had their music learned and after getting choreography learned, we would take the curtain panels down so that they could see themselves.  Then, when class was nearly over, we would hang them back up easily with the velcro.  It solved a HUGE dilmena. I can take pics and send them.  My email is rduris(a)tps.org.
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