The pandemic taught choral directors that technology can ease communication, facilitate recruitment and advertising, and develop musicianship. But technology can go further. With the right tools, choral directors can cut through the mass of people they conduct to learn more about each singer as a musician and person. When you know your students better as individuals, you can work with them more efficiently and effectively.
Practice and Assessment Software
Many platforms offer practice and assessment software. MatchMySound allows singers to hear ensemble parts or a metronome while they practice and record themselves. They receive immediate feedback on their pitch, rhythm, and duration every time they record. If you want the practice and assessment software to benefit you as well as your singers, it is essential that you have a teacher account connected to each student’s account. Connected conductors can upload or select repertoire, customize assignments, and access student submissions, scores, and statistics.
MatchMySound enables choral directors to:
- Learn how often a student practices and for how long. You can even see how many attempts were made for a given recording.
- View the tools that a singer used, such as a metronome or accompaniment track.
- Identify singers who have their music memorized, if you turn on memorization mode.
- Get a glimpse of each student’s performance through the automated feedback.
- And, most importantly, you can listen to each singer’s recordings to hear how they actually sound! You won’t have to wonder who isn’t blending, who needs to work on their diction, or who you can count on to be an anchor in each section when you work with your full group.
Video conferencing platforms, like the music-focused video platform in MatchMySound, are helpful for both individual or sectional lessons and group rehearsals. Regardless of how many students you work with on a given call, most platforms will show you a limited number of them on your screen at any given time, giving you the opportunity to view them as individuals rather than the sea of singers you probably see in person. As long as the everyone’s cameras are on, you’ll learn a lot from what you’re able to see.
Proper technique allows singers to reach their full musical potential, and you can use the visual information you get from video conferencing to develop that technique. Do you see shallow breathing? Poor posture? Embouchures that don’t match? Additionally, because students can see each other in a virtual rehearsal or sectional, it is easy to point out (or literally spotlight) good models for your singers to mirror.
You’ll also see where your singers are probably practicing outside of rehearsal. Does it look like they have adequate space and light? Can you see or hear distractions on their end? When you have this information, you can gently make suggestions to a student individually to help them develop the most conducive environment possible to their singing.
To be fair, you can get the same visual information from your practice and assessment software if it offers video recording. Video conferencing, however, also facilitates relationship building. Many students tend to be less timid if they are in a familiar place, like their own home, and if they are in a smaller group of peers. If you’re brave enough to use the chat with a group, you open another door for your more reserved members to contribute. And it’s easy to make connections over pets, decor, and other objects that end up in a singer’s frame.
The Bottom Line
Strong individual singers make for a good chorus. A director who knows the strengths of their choir’s individual singers, understands how they learn, and uses this knowledge to inform their practice makes for a better one.
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