The next “prop” your dance studio needs

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to hear clearly in your studio’s rehearsal space? As a teacher, are you constantly having to yell to be heard above the music? There is a reason for that: most dance studios’ acoustic characteristics are about as bad as they can possibly be. Because all the walls are parallel (floor and ceiling of course too), and one or more walls are covered entirely with mirrors and windows, sound bounces around and around and around and around. This bouncing is known as echo or reverb. Often these types of spaces have severe flutter echoes.

The net effect of all this sound-bouncing (reverb and echo) is that it makes it hard to hear things inside the room clearly. And when you can’t hear clearly, it makes you want to turn the volume of the music up much too loud. It makes you have to yell in order for the kids to hear you, and even then, it can be hard for them to understand what you are saying, and also hard to hear the details of the music you are playing.

This is ESPECIALLY PROBLEMATIC FOR TAPPERS! Not only are tap shoes loud to begin with, but flutter echoes and loads of reverb make it really hard to hear the details and timing that your tappers are trying to achieve! No wonder that your tap students are having such a hard time trying to get in sync with each other…. they can’t hear what they are doing!

Another downside to the terrible acoustics inside your dance rehearsal spaces is that by cranking up the music to try to hear it better, you are annoying your neighbors, whether they are other businesses or other dance rehearsal spaces. If it’s another dance teacher in the next room, then they have to turn their music up to drown out yours… leading you to turn up your music even louder to drown out theirs, in a never-ending loudness war.

It’s time to stop the loudness wars in your own dance studio! It’s time to start hearing the music and the instructor more clearly inside the the studio space! It’s time to stop going home at the end of a long night of teaching with a headache and your ears ringing!

Fortunately, solutions are EASY and relatively inexpensive! But the difference, from a sonic perspective, is NIGHT and DAY!

Many dance studios have a cadre of talented and able-bodied Dance Dads who build amazing props for their dance daughters and dance sons. These heroic dads (and of course moms too!) then also have the job of carting said props long distances to various regional and national competitions.

Well, the next “prop” your studio’s dance dads should build is …. drum roll….. broadband acoustic absorbing panels.

Yes, you heard me right. For a total of about $150-$200 in materials, your handy dance dads (and moms!) can build six or eight 2′ by 4′ acoustic panels and hang them in your rehearsal spaces, bringing down the amount of flutter echoes and reverb to a reasonable and comfortable level. The result of which will be:

  1. You can hear the music CLEARLY at a comfortable volume
  2. You don’t have to yell as loud to be heard by your students
  3. Students can more easily hear the instructions you are giving them
  4. You don’t leave the studio with a headache every night from the volume of the sound system
  5. You don’t annoy your neighbors with OONCE OONCE OONCE all night long

If you have the budget, you can purchase pre-made acoustic panels and traps, but dance studio owners can save a few bucks by enlisting the help of capable dance parents! More about how to build these acoustic traps coming up soon, so stay tuned! If you can’t wait another minute to find out more, here’s an example of how it looks/works installed in a dance studio: Acoustic panels in a dance studio. Here’s a nice and short little YouTube video that explains quite clearly how to build them. My only advice beyond this video is to use a nice-looking fabric for the face so that you have something beautiful to hang on your walls instead of burlap.

Here is a PDF describing a case study from a dance studio in Sequim, Washington, where the severe echo problems were tamed with acoustic panels. Here is a PDF which gives NRC ratings at several frequencies for 3″ Roxul Safe and Sound (page 7).

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