Why Are We Having Rehearsals Online?
Having survived the initial transition hurdle, I've found it immensely useful to try to articulate what I'm trying to achieve with each group online. If the mere thought of achievements causes you similar panic as it did in me a few weeks ago, don't punish yourself. It is perfectly fine to take one week at a time in order to survive! However, if you find yourself demotivated at large or feel that the group needs clarity in their actions, this could be something to consider.
So what are we trying to achieve with our rehearsals online?
To support the singers sanity and well-being in the current situation
When so many things are off in our everyday lives, having at least some familiar routines continue can mean a lot - even if the environment is new. Meeting at the usual time and seeing familiar faces can make a huge difference for feeling somewhat normal and like life isn't completely out of place. Not to mention the social and peer support -aspects of a choir! This intent impacts everything regarding the rehearsals and my approach to them. With my mixed choir Musta lammas, we are usually tracking absences, asking our members to keep their non-health related absences from our rehearsals down to three times per semester. One of the first things I did when transitioning into distance sessions was to put the tracking on hold for now. There is no need to add pressure and anxiety to an already charged situation. If the singers can benefit of our online activities, that's great. If what they need the most is something else, I support that too.
To provide the singers with an opportunity to sing and do music
During this weird time I have found a lot of comfort in singing, playing and making music just for the sake of it. Many of our singers don't necessarily have the means to bring that about themselves, or like myself often, have difficulties in bringing themselves to do that on their own. This is where we as conductors come in; we can facilitate those small meaningful moments, and also provide our singers with a much needed distraction from whatever they are dealing with at the moment. To develop and continue work on the core agenda of the group
This is a difficult one, for sure, as it is hugely impacted by the current restrictions. It spans not only the rehearsals in themselves, but also working with the choirs board and navigating this difficult situation together. With my female choir ZinZingen, I have put the focus of our rehearsals on motivating the singers musically and giving them new opportunities to explore music. That has meant working on the concert program we were preparing from a staging and storytelling point of view, learning new material and technological tools via participating in an international virtual choir project and introducing them to songwriting. With Musta lammas, a lions' share of our shared time online has been dedicated to creating new repertoire and developing our arranging skills. They are central areas in our musical agenda, but they usually get less attention due to rehearsing and preparing for concerts.
To explore the challenge and opportunity at hand. Can we learn new things while collaborating online?
To create continuity and pro-actively build towards the future Not only am I thinking about the future of the choirs, but also, the future of my work for them. Creating continuity and gaining necessary skills for navigating the current situation is a win-win-win; for the singers, for the choir as a community, and for me and my work.