Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Are You Running out of Studio Space?

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Are You Running out of Studio Space?

Article excerpt

AS YOUR PRIVATE STUDIO PROSPERS, you may look around and see issues with music storage, book shelving, full length mirrors, recording equipment, and DVDs, or even needing adequate room to walk around the piano easily during teaching. So you begin the potentially agonizing process of planning changes to your studio space to improve your singing lessons, rehearsals, and professional work. I have seen many instances where talented and capable voice teachers plunge into renovating their home studios or move into another building without using some "left brain" thinking and obtaining sound facility recommendations.

Just recently I encountered teachers who had worked for eighteen months to plan a build-out of commercial space for offices, rehearsal rooms, bathrooms, and a break area. Their time was consumed in architectural drawings, code reviews, and real estate searches (with challenging owner pricing and negotiations). After my singer and voice teacher wife Karolyn asked me to get involved, I helped them backtrack to establish requirements, used them to focus the architect on a better design, and helped them obtain new bids. Not only were the four new proposals lower than the originals, but the specifications and details were improved from the first go around. These changes were accomplished in just seven weeks; they now have a timetable to move in three months with better economics and a more functional space.

By reading this article, your payback will be threefold: time, money, and results. First is time, the most precious resource we have. When you have invested your efforts and energies smartly, you will find that neither do you become slowed down due to lack of information, nor do you have to rework steps in the process. When you have data and priorities well in hand, directions to architects and contractors can save weeks or even months. Next is money, which is always important for teachers. Considerable cash can be spent for professionals to prepare blueprints and complete engineering work, especially if you change your mind several times after thinking about their ideas. Even more insidious is making changes during construction when the contractor will make your change order for actual costs plus a 30-40 percent fee.

Finally are the results, which you will live with for a long time after the project is finished. If you let others make all the key decisions, you may not like what you see at completion. If you constantly seek the cheapest materials or fixtures, they may not look good or last long enough. I am reminded of a person who did not want to spend any money on room-to-room wall insulation. The sound transmission was most distracting from her adjoining practice rooms, an example of a key studio function that was cut to save money.

Whether you are remodeling your home studio or building out a purchased area, the following ten lessons might eliminate your personal and professional frustrations, complete the small or large project on time and budget, and deliver new spaces that work well and are essential to your studio's success. You will notice my early lessons are longer than the later ones. This is because at the beginning of a project you can:

* provide the most critical input to the process;

* obtain the greatest leverage for your dollars;

* avoid later mistakes and their costly implications; and

* achieve a quality end result in a timely manner.

Think about this process as similar to how you would prepare a singer for competition. Cramming everything in the week before a NATS regional audition is just as ridiculous as working feverishly to finalize blueprints and fixture choices a week before the contractor is scheduled to start work. Just like a singing student requires a careful assessment of her/his skills and abilities-and then a development plan tailored to those needs-a facility project requires the same approach in information gathering, realistic planning, and decision making. …

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