• Steve Martin

Moving from traditional to virtual

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Moving from traditional in-person learning of a piece of music to running a similar process virtually requires a bit of a paradigm shift. How educators teach and how students learn will be different processes when working towards a virtual performance.

One of the key components in the success of an Our Virtual Ensemble project is choosing a piece of literature that has several key characteristics. This is especially important when embarking on your first project, as it will help students stay nearer to their comfort zones.

Be mindful of these key characteristics in the piece you select for a virtual performance:

  • Moderate tempo: Repertoire that is too fast or too slow can present challenges to performers when recording to a click track. It’s best to stay in the range of 88 to 144 beats per minute.

  • A Consistent tempo throughout: While this is not a dealbreaker, it is certainly more challenging for performers to record videos to a click track that contains accelerandos, retardandos, fermatas, and/or tempo changes.

  • Appropriate difficulty level: It is advised to select literature that is slightly less demanding than your ensemble is accustomed to. This becomes less of a factor as the performers are involved in subsequent projects, but it can be a barrier to success when performers are still adjusting to the modified learning and recording process.

  • Strengths and weaknesses of your ensemble: The areas where your ensemble is less proficient can be amplified and exacerbated in the virtual ensemble environment. Think of it this way; it’s like putting a microphone next to every single performer in your ensemble. In that regard, carefully review your selections to be sure you are setting the performers up for the maximum level of achievement and not risking exposure of areas of weakness.

In summary, take the time to select a piece that will allow your ensemble to shine and promote a sense of accomplishment among your performers. We would all love to be performing in person together again, but until then, let’s make music together virtually and have fun doing it!

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