One of the things that online learning has shown us, is not just our ability but also our desire to be creative.
Over our remotes learning period many music-making and creative arts apps suddenly become available for either a fraction of their normal cost, or in some cases even free. As concerts and events slowly got either postponed or cancelled, artists also began to consider alternative ways to connect with their audiences. Gradually an increasing number of free online events appeared; from complete West End or Broadway shows to classical music recitals, pop concerts and art exhibitions. One of the few things we could do at home was to engage well with the performing and visual arts world from the comfort of our armchairs, and usually for little or no cost. Whilst this does question how creative arts professionals maintain their livelihoods, it does highlight the extent of our need for streaming services and social media.
At AISHK we understood that it was disappointing for many of us that our live performances, including our highly anticipated musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” needed to be cancelled in 2020 in line with social distancing measures at the time. However, the remote learning experience and online platforms allowed us to think of new ways to connect and find creative collaborative musical experiences.
Our Year 9 and 10 elective music classes were able to engage in thoughtful discussions on aspects of performance through a Google Meet with Rainer Saville, who is Associate Principal, Trumpet with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra. Opportunities like this in the normal classroom setting are a rare treat and our students were very lucky that Ms Elise Kelly was able to arrange this for them. The session provided valuable insight into preparation for performances as well as some thoughts on dealing with performance anxiety.
The 21st century music industry embraces the use of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW). DAW’s are often associated with studio recording, having replaced multi-track tape (if anyone still remembers that!). With inbuilt studio effects and the ability to record an infinite number of tracks, these are essential tools for the modern day musician. Many DAW’s now also include synthesiser modules, looping tools and the ability to trigger musical riffs from MIDI hardware devices such as launchpads.
From Year 5 upwards, AISHK students have been able to work with an online DAW called Soundtrap. As this platform is completely on the cloud, students have been able to engage in collaborative projects such as creating a jingle for an advertisement, experimenting with Foley (the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to films, videos, etc.), or composing their own piece of electronic music. Through this software, students can also receive direct feedback on their work from the teacher and communicate with their peers to help them make changes and improve their project.
With the ability to share both screen and audio functions through Google Meet or Zoom, certain other collaborative tasks were also able to continue. Choir rehearsals still happened, and although individual voices had to be muted, this proved useful for learning new songs, which has helped with the preparation of materials for when our live rehearsals resume. As recording technology is so readily available, students can share audio or video files of themselves performing easily and teachers can also create, and share click tracks and guidance tracks for rehearsals purposes.
The online experience was a challenge, but it also encouraged the creative flow from our students and teachers. It is also helping us consider what skills our 21st century performing artists now require. I am thankful to all the performing arts staff for their work during our online period, but I am also looking forward to resuming real “live” rehearsals very soon.
Peter Stapleton | Head of Performing Arts