Well, this week we decided to embark an a new project for us, a virtual rehearsal.
Back in April we began Lockdown Brass and started with a couple of live online rehearsals. To be honest they were a bit of a disaster due to the lag on the internet which meant that no-one could hear anyone else accurately. Six months on and after some research we decided to have another go but in a different format.
I had heard that some groups had developed a system which seemed to work. This consisted of distributing the parts by email and the players playing along with a recording that was broadcast using a shared screen, all participants were muted. After a few play throughs we then unmuted and had a discussion about the piece, it’s technical challenges and stylistic interpretation. This gave participants an opportunity to ask about areas they didn’t quite understand and how to play certain passages. One problem we immediately came across was the recording that was played was too quiet! I had created it by importing a pdf file into Sibelius’ and using export to mp3 feature. This worked well and is something I will definitely use again, but the volume will need some attention for the next session.
I had intended to separate the group into breakout rooms but on this occasion and with it being our first attempt I felt that there may not have been enough of a focus to make it work and decided to shelve it until the next session. Hopefully, I will have more of an idea how to tackle it by then. After discussing some issues we then had a couple more play throughs to give everyone an opportunity to try out some of the suggested solutions.
So what did people make of it? Well, the initial feedback was good, participants seemed to welcome the fact that they could play against a recording which gave them a sense of being able to play with a group again. The format though from my point of view was a little frustrating as I was unable to hear what was happening, so I was having to rely on players themselves identifying the problems they were having. Perhaps listening by unmuting one or two who were having problems might work, and the introduction of breakout groups could also help as with a smaller number it would be easier for me to join a group and get individuals to play their part.
Overall though I think it was a positive experience and everyone seemed happy to develop the idea so we will see where it goes next.