Making Music Together Again!

No matter what tools you’re using and what platforms you are on, here’s to making music together again!

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Music, for most people, is best enjoyed with others. In fact, the appeal of school band, orchestra, and chorus is, for many, the chance to make music with friends. One of my ensembles is a community concert band, the Carrollton Wind Ensemble, and for many—if not most—of them, playing in this band is as much about reliving their “glory days” as anything else.

And that is a wonderful thing! Music is something we all have in common. When we make music together, we can easily appreciate our human diversity and share the most beautiful language on earth.

I’ve often observed that musical instruments require a certain personality type from the player, if the player is going to achieve a high level of proficiency. Obviously, there are exceptions, but being a former trumpeter, I can attest that most accomplished trumpeters are comfortable taking over the room from time to time (admit it trumpeters . . . you know it’s true). Double reed players often enjoy tinkering with instrument repair, fly fishing, or arts and crafts (and, of course, reeds!).

Pianists, for example, have to practice for long hours in solitude. If you don’t like spending a large part of your day completely alone, you simply will not become a great pianist. And the truth is, most of us do not like spending that much time alone. So we play other instruments that allow us to play in sections and enjoy large ensemble rehearsals.

We, as educators, could tap into our students’ need for camaraderie as a way to get them to practice more outside of our classrooms and rehearsals. Assigning “practice buddies” who hold each other accountable, push each other to high levels of technical proficiency, and share with each other insights one might not think of on one’s own is an incredibly effective way to motivate, inspire, and encourage our students to practice more, and practice better.

No matter what tools you’re using and what platforms you are on, here’s to making music together again!

Technology that was widely adopted during the pandemic can be used to this end as we all, thankfully, transition back to in-person learning. Gig Room allows musicians to play together in real time, with latencies of less than 100ms round trip time (RTT). That’s the same latency we experience on stage every time we perform. Gig Room also provides weekly reports to educators about practice sessions so teachers can easily grade at-home practice assignments. Students can upload video recordings of assigned scales, etudes, and musical passages, and teachers can assign required viewing/listening of reference recordings and receive a report telling which students actually watched and for how long.

No matter what tools you’re using and what platforms you are on, here’s to making music together again!

Originally posted on the NAfME blog.

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