I sat down with Daniel Aldrich to get his opinion regarding staging equipment and accessories to find out tips on how to best outfit a music room. Daniel is a graduate of Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and holds a BA in Classical Guitar. He now works for the university as both an instructor and participant in both instrumental and choral performances. In this capacity he is often responsible for coordinating the details of university musical events such as a student recital or a choir performance. So, I decided to ask him what was most important when it comes to choosing the equipment to outfit both the ideal practice area and performance room.
“When it comes to musical equipment and accessories,” says Daniel, “versatility and portability are very important to me. Considering that I’m not very strong, and often left with the task of setting up staging and seating for an entire auditorium event, I really appreciate being able to move staging and chairs without breaking my back.” Daniel goes on to say that his current setup could use an update in this regard. “If I had it my way, all of the things I have to move would be lighter. There is a reason I chose music over joining the football team,” he says, smiling.
When pressed on the specifics of his decisions if he were to create his ideal performance and practice environments he had some very definite ideas. One of the things Daniel considers important is adjustability in choral risers. “A lot of the older stationary equipment doesn’t have much change between steps on the choral platform. If the difference in height between the performers is too much to arrange properly you’re often left with vocalists projecting into the back of each other’s heads rather than into the audience.” As a solution to this dilemma, Dan suggests choral risers with adjustable legs. “This gives you more options when deciding how you want to arrange you’re choir.”
Staging is another aspect of outfitting that Dan elaborates on. “Edinboro University is well known for catering to people with disabilities. There are ramps in every building as well as onto our staging area. I think that the staging ramps make things more convenient for everyone, including the more obvious advantage of making musical participation easily accessible to all who are interested. Even if we didn’t have a relatively high number of musicians in wheelchairs, I would still appreciate and recommend the staging ramps for anyone trying to assemble a music room.”
During the interview Dan recounts an anecdote that speaks to another important necessity: “When I was still a student at Edinboro, I was playing a recital that featured a number of arrangements. For my part, I was playing in a trio with a flautist and a cellist. I was a senior so it was up to me to make sure that the recital ran smoothly. I guess I became so entranced with the music that I lost my place in the performance program. I knew that I was to join the duet on stage when they were finished with their number, but I neglected to leave an extra chair handy to sit with them. A lack of folding chairs is always an issue during recitals, but this time it led to an embarrassing moment for me. When the duet had finished, I was caught staring into space for a moment but moved quickly onto stage to join when I felt the eyes of the entire department on me. As I walked on, I was horrified to see that there were no chairs left handy for me to pull up. After what seemed like an eternity of uncomfortable silence, I noticed an empty folding chair that had been placed in the audience to extend seating. I rushed down to grab it and assumed my position on stage as quickly as possible. But, the interruption in the program left a sour taste for me especially, and, even though nobody called me out on it, I could tell that some of the other musicians thought I should have been better prepared.” The moral of the story according to Dan: “make sure you have enough portable chairs.”
A final piece of advice from Daniel is to use staging and risers with a non-slip surface. “Falling off a choral riser would put my embarrassing mishap to shame, not to mention the medical and potential legal difficulties that could arise from such an incident.”
So, to summarize the points from the interview, Daniel recommends choosing stage equipment that is both light and versatile. Staging and choral risers with adjustable height are always an optimal choice, and ramps leading to the stage are both practical and convenient. Non-skid platform surfaces are preferable to their slippery alternatives. And, an abundance of portable chairs always comes in handy when assembling your ideal musical environment.