9 Reasons To Continue Music Rehearsals Online!

Like many other countries, Singapore’s COVID-19 social-distancing and “Circuit-Breaker” measures (a ‘sort-of’ lockdown) meant that choirs were not allowed to rehearse in the same room any more. Three of our community choirs, YAZERS (Pop & Jazz Youth Choir) and Schola Cantorum Singapore Ltd. (non-profit organisation, for-hire adult choir) and Tanglin Club Choir (seniors) have been experimenting since 27 March 2020 with virtual, ‘live’ online rehearsals. Here are some of our key takeaways from our sessions!

  1. Refine the art of how to practice/teach
    1. Individuals can observe a music leader in action and how he/she help individuals to improve. This provides models and opportunities for self-assessment and troubleshooting of one’s own singing and/or teaching!
  2. Better individual proficiency
    1. Nothing grows under the shade! Singers have no choice but to come out of the shadows of their seniors/stronger singers and literally “sing like a soloist”! Some of the shy singers may also feel more forthcoming singing to a screen!
    2. Unmuting individual students allows conductors/section leaders to check an individual’s proficiency, something we don’t always make time for during traditional tutti rehearsals.
    3. You can teach individual understanding of ensemble things like where to cut-off, vowel formations etc. Hopefully when we meet again, details are remembered (fingers crossed!)!
  3. Duets in real time!
    1. Real-time duets are possible if music leader is singing while the student is muted. Recording these ‘duets’ and submitting it for review is an excellent form of asynchronous learning!
    2. In cases where backing tracks are provided, students can play and sing to it to obtain feedback from music leaders on how they did.
  4. Muscle & brain maintenance
    1. Seriously, SOME practice is better than NO practice. Sight-reading, playing etc. needs maintenance… If we don’t use it, we lose it! You’ve done your daily 40hrs of practice yet? 😉
  5. Visual clarity
    1. Nothing beats having crystal clear closeups of their music leaders singing/playing alongside and providing models for good singing habits in embouchure, breathing etc.
    2. If your rehearsal space/music studio does not have a strategically placed mirror, you now have one! Students can now see their own face/embouchure whilst rehearsing!
    3. Easy screen sharing means music leaders can quickly show video examples, how they mark their scores etc.
  6. Greater efficiency of rehearsals
    1. When everyone’s muted, everyone’s forced to listen more intently to the main speaker!
    2. Moving people from tutti to sectionals has never been speedier!
  7. Building a sense of community
    1. Humans are by nature social creatures. Continuing to meet online as a group is important to keeping morale up during these difficult times!
  8. Inclusivity
    1. Regardless where your singer might be, being online allows everyone, even the ones who are newly minted mothers, ill or overseas, to participate in the rehearsal!
  9. Fun!
    1. Cute siblings, children, pets hogging the screen, getting to kaypoh (busybody) your favourite human’s room, or having virtual backgrounds and singing from a starship’s bridge or in pineapples under the sea… where else are you gonna get that?

No system/tool is perfect. Yes we know about video conferencing latency (lag!); Yes we know about potential lack of sound clarity (e.g. due to internet speeds/microphones); and yes we know there is no substitute for the spine-tingling overtones when we sing beautiful music together in the same room. These are extraordinary times, and we see many merits of such synchronous learning online and would like to encourage you to try it with your ensembles!

Kodaly Academy of Music’s (KAM) core values of “Excellence, People & Innovation”, has seen us at the forefront of utilising new technology e.g. the first Singaporean choir to record in 360 VR, using VR recording in the demonstration and teaching of conducting, employing video guides for music analysis in our education work etc.. We hope this article will help the community-at-large during this difficult time, and encourage stakeholders like students, parents, school/choir boards and musicians to continue rehearsals. Should you have any queries, ideas, or requests for us to explore certain topics, feel free to write in to us!

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