When it comes to planning facilities for music education there are some important differences to consider compared to the needs required for teaching other subjects. Because of the number of music students and the physical nature of music education, music activities require more space, greater flexibility, and more fresh air than other classrooms. Planning the spaces and equipment requirements is critical to a successful outcome.

Depending on the scope and ambitions for the project the planning team will typically include the head of music working with the bursar, facilities manager and for new build or major refurishment projects, an architect as well. We talk collectively in terms of all the rooms and spaces used for music education as the Music Suite.

The Music Suite is a complex environment with many different areas and unique dynamics. Learning within the Music Suite is accomplished by critical listening where design success will be measured by how well teachers and students can hear within this special environment. Every aspect of the rehearsal and practice areas must be designed to promote clear hearing. As a result, the acoustical considerations of music areas are the top priority. Sound isolation, quieter mechanical systems, additional room volume, and other specialized needs inevitably make music suite construction costs per square metre higher than that of other school teaching areas.

Four critical factors for an effective Music Suite

There are four critical factors that will determine the effectiveness of your music facility:-

• Acoustics - how well your facility promotes critical listening is directly proportional to how effective it will be.
• Floor plan - the layout of your Music Suite determines whether it is effective, ineffective, or even unusable.
• Storage - storage not only affects equipment, but also acoustics, traffic flow and security.
• Equipment - choosing appropriate equipment is the final step toward achieving a successful Music Suite.

Acoustics

The study of music is dependent upon the ability to hear and learn differences in intonation, dynamics, articulation and balance. This skill, called critical listening, can be developed only in a learning environment with suitable acoustics. To ensure an acoustical environment that promotes critical listening and effective music education, your facility’s design must pay close attention to the following elements:

• Cubic volume and room shape.
• Sound isolation between rooms.
• ;Acoustical treatments to walls, ceilings and furnishings
• Suitably designed mechanical systems.

Floor plan

What is true in other areas of the school is not necessarily so in the Music Suite. The Music Suite requires more space, per student, than any other area of your school, and your floor plan must reflect that. Space is only one concern. An effective Music Suite design must successfully integrate the following elements:

• Floor space

• Traffic flow
• Access to related areas

• Teacher monitoring
• Flexibility for multiple activities and future needs

Storage

Storage needs in the Music Suite can be considerable and varied, and your floor plan must provide adequate storage for instruments and music. Because most music equipment is fragile, expensive and prone to theft and vandalism, storage spaces must be durable and secured. You’ll also want to make these vital elements your main concern throughout the process:

• Types of storage
• Traffic flow
• Security

Music Education Equipment

The final step in planning your Music Suite is choosing equipment specially designed for your music activities. And although furniture and equipment are normally not included in the general building contract, your advanced planning will make sure you have a budget large enough to purchase the equipment you need and equip the Music Suite with everything required for quality music education.