Our musicians reveal their home music studios

Tucked away in the backyard behind a white mulberry tree is the home music studio of our Principal Double Bass Kees Boersma and his wife Kirsty McCahon.

With two teenage sons studying for university and the HSC, as well as juggling their own music practice – Kirsty is also a professional double bassist – the couple decided to build the studio two years ago when their family home started to feel considerably "cosy".

Although the windows are double-glazed, noise wasn’t their main concern because the neighbours like listening to them practice. "Because our instrument doesn’t have the loudest, most penetrative sound, we could work with fairly standard materials," Kees says. "That said, the double bass can’t tolerate extreme heat."

"The materials we have used keep the temperatures in a fairly narrow range," says Kees, who stuffed the ceiling and walls of the studio with acoustic-grade insulation. "The mulberry tree – while it looks a bit like a shaggy dog! – also helps to protect the studio from the heat."

Kees has also created screens from high-density UV resistant shade cloth stretched over timber battens to fit over the windows. He used the same cloth to make shade sails that extend over the entire cabana during the summer, ensuring the studio remains a cool musical oasis.

"Kirsty and I like to work on our bass projects together," Kees says. "The fact that we can now sit in the same room and practice together is a real godsend."

Over at Paul Goodchild’s home, one of the rooms has been transformed in to a home music and teaching studio. Our Associate Principal Trumpet has been a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for 39 years and still practises his instrument at home almost every day.

Soundproofing the space was the main concern for Paul. "My son’s bedroom is next door," Paul says. "Although he’s a teenager and can sleep through most things, sometimes I have up to five brass players rehearsing in here so it can get pretty loud!"

Gas-filled double-glazed windows mean that pedestrians outside aren’t privy to the glorious sounds of the trumpet, but they also stop the traffic noise on the adjacent main road from leaking in to the room. "You have to be mindful of your neighbours," Paul says. "It’s not only the right thing to do, but you will also feel self-conscious if you always get the tap on the door to be quiet."

Paul says a combination of absorbing and reflecting surfaces is essential to cultivating a great sound in a home music studio. Soundchek Gyprock walls, extra masonite on the floors and pink batts in the ceiling absorb the sound. "I’ve also seen people use egg cartons on the walls as a cost effective way of soundproofing a room," Paul says.

A glass cabinet lined with Paul’s extensive collection of trumpets and memorabilia from his Dad’s time in the SSO (Cliff Goodchild was Principal Tuba) deflects the sound back in to the room, as does a mirror on the middle wall. "You need to have a decent sound in the room, otherwise you won’t like being in there," Paul says. "The space can’t be too dead – it needs to have a little bit of life to it."

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Images: Daniela Testa
Words: Bridget Cormack