Our facilitators are the beating heart to the work we do here at Soundmix. Our Drums and Percussion tutor JT Taylor gives us an insight into facilitating music making over Zoom…
When a national lockdown was imposed a year ago I distinctly remember discussing the implications with a colleague. They mentioned this strange app named ‘Zoom’ as a method for continuing work, and advised me to look into it . I was sceptical about the efficacy of remote music tuition, especially as a drum kit tutor. I also questioned the longevity of this novel ‘lockdown’ situation…
How wrong I was! Now, a year on, I feel like I am pushing remote music tuition to it’s limits, having successfully continued all my previous in person work, plus finding new endeavours thanks to the worldwide connectivity offered by online working. Working in organisations willing and able to rise to the challenge presented by this ‘new normal’ has allowed musicians like me to continue to work throughout the pandemic, to which I will remain indebted.
Soundmix is a great example of this – we have not skipped a beat in keeping free music making available to unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people. Our flagship Friday sessions with the Refugee Council have continued online. We start off with name games and warm ups, followed by a whole group activity before we break into instrumental groups (now using breakout rooms – something we never actually had in person!). To finish the sessions, we come back together and have a sing along!
But how do we sing along together with the unavoidable internet time lag?
This challenge of synchronicity is the enduring sticking point to making music online. But for Soundmix it perfectly reflects the endearing bombastic nature of our sessions; we see different young people every week and in-person share space with a youth club complete with pool table! Therefore, we are very used to lively music making! Our vocal piece ‘sustain’ demonstrates this perfectly; for sustain, we ask the young people to take a deep breath in and then exhale whilst singing a note. The time delay on Zoom only enhances the layered vocal textures produced!
One huge difference to in-person sessions is….the mute button! This has served a very useful pedagogical function in ensuring the tutor can be clearly heard. Having all participants muted is great for young people learning their part – hearing it without background distraction and being able to repeat it back with the facilitator. This also means that the more shy participants feel able to have a go without fear of being heard.
Through my work with Soundmix during lockdown we have come such a long way in facilitating music making remotely. And, for sure, all the work everyone has put into transitioning to online will not be going to waste.
JT Leading a Soundmix Zoom session: