Students at Tawa College in Wellington can now provide a stellar performance thanks to the recent redevelopment of their music block.
The redevelopment had been on the cards at the school for more than 25 years. However necessary improvements to the technology classrooms and the need for a new gymnasium, along with the need to find additional classrooms to house the music rooms while the block was being upgraded, meant the music block redevelopment was delayed until 2010.
To add to the challenges, Tawa College is over code – meaning it uses the maximum building space it is allowed based on the size of its roll – so any redevelopment had to be fitted into the existing footprint of the building.
Murray Cameron, head of the music department at Tawa College, says the existing music block had been built in the 1960s and was not suitable for teaching the modern music curriculum.
“We have a strong choir, barbershop and orchestra tradition at Tawa College but to fit practices for these groups into the existing space meant we had to move all the tables and chairs to the sides of the classroom, have our rehearsal and then put everything back again.”
With this situation becoming untenable for the school, the redevelopment provided an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and design a music block that would encompass a large performance room as well as music classrooms and practice studios.
The 140 square metre performance space became the centre of the redevelopment project. “It provides a versatile space where we can keep alive the traditional forms of music, but also provide space for rock and pop bands to rehearse and perform,” says Cameron.
The performance room sits in the middle of the new block and is bordered on either side by the teaching classrooms with smaller studios and practice rooms along the back. The front of the building is aligned with the school’s assembly hall.
“Its size makes the room extremely versatile,” says Cameron. “It can be a lecture theatre one minute, then be used for a rock band’s practice and then be used for choir rehearsal.”
Another benefit of the room has been its sound system, says Cameron.
Wellington firm VideoPro supplied and installed JBL speakers, a dbx ZonePro digital zone processor, integrated AMX control, video switcher/scaler and an ultra-portable 4500 ANSI lumens projector in the performance room; speakers and amplifiers for the classrooms and rehearsal studios; and BSS professional recording equipment and a 42″ LG LCD in the recording studio.
The classrooms can also take advantage of an interactive projector and Onelan digital signage which displays scheduling and room use in the music department, as well as general notices and photo’s throughout the rest of the college.
“The best thing about the audio technology is that everything works from a central control which makes it extremely versatile,” says Cameron. “It is all automated with touch screen panels, which makes it easy to use.”
He says the whole set up has been fantastic for the school and its students. “The performance room is a magnificent room, the reflective and acoustic panelling makes it sound amazing when the choir and solo instruments are performing.”
And best of all, it is a music block that is designed for the modern music teaching environment.