School Planning and Management School Planning and Management

School Planning and Management

November 2010

Music Room Design: What Not to Leave Out
by Craig Jameson, AIA

Music education is an investment that begins with creating specialized rooms for music rehearsal and performance. These are unique spaces that function almost as musical instruments themselves and their look, sound and “feel” have a great impact on the perceived quality of a school’s program as well as its results. When asked what things are most often overlooked by schools when designing new music spaces, Craig Jameson, one of the principals at Parallax Associates, in Culver City, California, offered the following list.

Getting the Room Shape Right
There is an art to shaping walls and ceilings to assure that sound is distributed evenly. Parallel and concave surfaces should be avoided since these tend to concentrate sound into specific areas and cause interfacing reflections.

Providing Acoustical Separations
Adjacent rooms can be a source of unwanted noise in the music room. Special construction techniques are available that create barriers to sound travelling both in and out. These techniques include special assemblies for walls, ceilings and floors.

Developing Appropriate Internal Acoustics
Depending on the room’s specific use, criteria must be set for how it will sound. This is where a skilled acoustic engineer is of immense value. The engineer sets acoustical standards, specifies and locates finish materials to meet the standards, and tests the room when it’s complete to ensure success.

Including Critical Support Features
Sometimes, fundamental program needs are forgotten in the design process – even items as obvious as:

- a generous number of power outlets;

- a flexible lighting system to support different rehearsal/performance scenarios;

- private practice rooms;

- a variety of storage spaces for instruments, risers, chairs, music stands, etc.;

- integrated audio-visual systems; and

- generous counter space with sinks for cleaning instruments.

Keeping these points in mind when planning new music facilities can help schools avoid common mistakes and get the inspiring results they are hoping for.