THE SINGER'S PERSPECTIVE: DISCOVERING NEW WAYS OF LEARNING THROUGH ONLINE CHOIR ENGAGEMENT
Australian Catholic University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:By May 2020, choir rehearsals were identified in several countries as COVID-19 super-spreading events, with reports of up to 87% infection rates, plus several deaths, following rehearsals. Subsequently, choirs and ensembles with wind instruments were investigated to determine the risks of airborne COVID-19 droplets. Because of the inherent risks determined, music ensembles in many parts of the world were required to stop rehearsing in person, and live performances were cancelled for the remainder of the year. Nonetheless, in order to exist in some form through 2020, ensembles in schools and the wider community found ways to continue via remote engagement. Through analysis of one choir's experience in Melbourne, Australia, during an extended lockdown period, this paper reveals benefits resulting from using technology to remain engaged.
As the music director of the Tudor Choristers, a Melbourne-based choir established in 1962, I was impelled to lead the choir via online learning throughout 2020. Initially this presented multiple practical challenges, including up-skilling and confidence-building of participants in the use of communication technologies. A further challenge was how to stay artistically viable because real-time, synchronous music-making for larger ensembles, in live video chat settings, was not possible.
Ultimately, the choir engaged successfully in multiple types of online activities in 2020, some of which exceeded expectation. Based on my observations, I developed a hypothesis that components of online learning can be effective for use by ensemble directors for Music pedagogy.
The ensuing research project examined the Tudor Choristers’ achievements during lockdown. Singers responded voluntarily, in an anonymous survey, to questions about COVID-19's effect on their experiences with the choir. Analysis of the collected data, through a Music pedagogy lens, revealed several positive outcomes. For instance, a non-synchronous voice audit (assessment) process, in which choristers received feedback based on their individual recordings, was identified as the most valuable of the activities offered. It was identified by most choristers as more effective than the traditional face-to-face assessment method. As such, the hypothesis was validated.
These findings are applicable to ensembles in various Music education settings in which remote learning technologies are available and accessible to participants. Looking beyond COVID-19, the research encourages further exploration and adoption of online technologies for Music pedagogy.
Keywords: online learning, COVID-19, Music pedagogy, choir, virtual choir, music ensembles, vocal development, conductor, assessment