Teaching singing to a person you never met is a challenge. Not being able to rehearse as a group is a challenge. Teaching music and voice over the internet is a challenge. The LPC Music department is rising up to the challenge though.
Professor Dan Marschak said, , “The biggest challenges have been poor audio quality, internet issues, and our ensembles can’t rehearse together without sound delay. We are working around it as best we can with various software and hardware, but it’s far from ideal.”
When LPC transitioned to online classes, the music department had some challenges. Significantly, the department was challenged about how to have a concert or vocal performances of a chorus.
One of the technical challenges is that Zoom does not work for concerts and choruses as latency issues and a time lag between the different computers, tablets and cell phones would cause each participant to be off a little on timing. Some students don’t have a place to practice as they live with their families. Other people in the home may be having classes or business meetings at the same time as the class or lesson.
Professor Ian Brekke explained the process currently in use, He said, “I’m speaking primarily with the use of soundtrack, and I’m talking primarily about the vocal. The instrumental ensembles have also been doing some recording. But they may have a slightly different process. They are facing the same limitations we are. They can’t play in real time live.”
In response, the music department has switched to a web based software program, Sound Cloud. Sound Cloud allows the editing of a performance. Each performer records their piece and uploads it to Sound Cloud, where it is edited to the finished product by the music department instructors.
Recording an individual piece is not ideal as the first students to record cannot hear the other performers, which can cause their timing to be off. Subsequently, the students who follow can listen to the first recording and record their parts.
The first vocal piece done with this method was “Baby Mine,” which was performed by the virtual choir in the spring semester. One advantage of this piece is that the students had started rehearsing prior to the campus shutdowns, so they had some experience performing as a group. The program received positive feedback from those who watched. Many were impressed with how well the procedure worked. The performance can be found at: http://www.laspositascollege.edu/music/index.php.
One area that has worked well is applied lessons, according to Brekke. Applied lessons are individual lessons, so there is no need to coordinate between different performers. After three semesters, the students have a performance that is judged by the faculty members. The performances were live, but since the switch to online classes, they are done virtually. One recent performance was by Laura Lentz is on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlihh82k8AU&feature=youtu.be.
Lentz’s performance was well received but without some technical issues. The performance was filmed in her kitchen so the lighting was not as good as on a stage. The sound quality, which is the most important aspect of music performance was good
On Nov. 5, seven music students performed individually in a music forum. The event was recorded on Zoom: https://cccconfer.zoom.us/rec/play/xS7Ye6QWJ0JBM3tovOdvJlc4OLvH53Xu93Me68KJXXYYAkgfBcvIkPXZWIGZ6RQgoK7rCTm_idOAm-g9.uArperq5GIQAJEJg?continueMode=true
Both Brekke and Marschak said that the challenges have been difficult, but the music department has worked together and resolved some of the issues. They are learning as they go, and this semester has been better than last semester when the college was abruptly switched to online classes as the program was adapting.
The vocal group plans to release two holiday songs this month and another in January. The instrumental group has a piano recital scheduled for Dec. 17.
Alan Lewis is the photo editor of The Express. Follow him @alolewis1.