By Leslie Bricker
Our current reality has shifted educational activities online….virtual schooling, virtual rehearsals…. and for me, a virtual choral education opportunity.
I had planned to attend the CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education, exploring a fabulous professional development curriculum for choral and music educators. With the cancellation of the in-person course, I “pivoted” (how often we have come to use that verb!) and enrolled in the 3-day virtual course that was being offered in its place.
Rather than spending 5 days on the lovely campus of the University of Michigan in Lansing, I spent 3 intense days in my dining room, surrounded by computers, cameras, cables, and all the technology that goes along with online learning.
As makers of music, builders of community and seekers of artistry, everyone in the course felt the pain of being separated from each other, and from the youth choir that would have participated in the Institute. Participants explored ideas of score analysis and conducting gesture in conducting recorded music, rather than a live ensemble.
And yet…. the virtual format allowed for many elements of the course to continue, and offered some unexpected benefits! Sharing files online and on Zoom screens allowed us to collaborate with faculty and colleagues to analyse musical scores, discuss meaningful rehearsal planning, focus on pedagogy, socially engaged programming and on performance practice. Thanks to technology, we were still able to receive feedback from faculty on our own interpretation of the score.
The virtual format enabled conductor educators from Canada, the U.S., England, Ireland and Brazil to come together for 3 days of collaboration and growth. Social media connections have already flourished as a result of our being together!
I will look forward to returning to the CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education for a face-to-face course, to build on the initial inspiration that I gained in the virtual course!