Tuesday 23 June 2020

Taking education on-line: from Zooming choristers and Virtual Mini Sessions, to singing lessons with ETO and #OPatHome

#OPatHome from Oxford Philharmonic
#OPatHome from Oxford Philharmonic
With the advent of lockdown, music education has had to go on-line in ways which perhaps were never considered before, and many organisations must be considering how procedures and methodology might change when normality returns, to continue to capture some of the energy and directness that can come from on-line interaction.

When I interviewed Edmund Aldhouse, director of music at Ely Cathedral, he talked about how doing regular one-to-one Zoom sessions with each of the choristers had made them re-think how they might take elements of this forward when group rehearsals are possible again. And the Benedetti Foundation's Virtual Sessions in May, on-line replacements for the foundations regular series of workshops for young players and for teachers, was such a success that the foundation is running more, with the Virtual Mini Sessions during July and August.

Over at English Touring Opera, the singers who were expecting to be taking part in the company's tour of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Bach's St John Passion and Handel's Giulio Cesare, have been busy creating on-line singing-lesson videos both for Adults and for Children, to encourage everyone to get singing. I sampled one of the lessons last week, read my article about the results.

And the musicians of the Oxford Philharmonic have been creating #OPatHome, a six-week video series of entertaining and resourceful virtual music-making for primary school children. In the series, members of the Orchestra introduce their instruments, tell stories, perform legendary musical excerpts, and suggest interactive activities to do at home, even if you don't play an instrument.

The series has been created by musicians from the Orchestra during lockdown in hopes of sending music, fun and creativity from their own homes to children watching at home and in school, and activities include making your own panpipes from paper straws, body percussion, and sound effects with kitchen utensils. Each video is accompanied by short worksheets with further tasks to encourage children to participate. Six videos are currently available including with Tony (flute), Basia (violin), Bryony (viola), Jules (percussion), and Sally (harp). The series is presented by Jamie, who is Sub-Principal 2nd Violin with the Orchestra. There is an #OPatHome playlist on YouTube.

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