It’s not just the handicapped who have a difficult time with a balcony choir loft. I’m 56, and I have a lot of trouble managing stairs, especially going down. Many older folks aren’t officially “handicapped,” but can’t do stairs.
IMO, any parish that has the option of re-building needs to put an elevator in that will bring parishioners to all the levels in the building (except the bell tower–I have no wish to make like Quasimodo and be up that high!). Also, if a choir loft is built up high, there needs to be a bathroom on the same level so that choir members don’t have to traipse downstairs.
It’s funny how people are different. Those of you who were raised Catholic or Lutheran are distracted when the choir and musicians are in front of you. Well, those of us who were raised in Evangelical Protestant churches are distracted when the choir and musicians are BEHIND us! We keep turning around to look, and wondering who’s singing what and who’s playing and who’s directing! I’m not joking!
So we probably both need to work on learning better concentration skills, don’t we? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to focus on Jesus in the Mass no matter what kind of building we are in?