After about seven frustrating weeks of remote lessons and rehearsals, we are back with face-to-face lessons and rehearsals at JWA. We found some workable solutions for rehearsals over the internet, but the useful ones depend on students having the right equipment:
1. The ability to connect to the internet via a wired ethernet connection, 2. Separate mics and headphones and, 3. Ideally have an audio interface.
Some students ordered interfaces from local shops who, sadly, were only pretending to have them in stock and really just ordered from suppliers – who didn’t have them or are very slow shippers. This is an unfortunate trend among Australian music retailers. Their online stores are sometimes just shabby drop-shipping operations, but with the added mark-up by local distributors and bricks-and-mortar retailers. The result was that families ordered gear that never arrived or came too late.
Anyway, back to the current situation.
We have two large rehearsal spaces that can accommodate 14 and 12 people respectively within the Australian requirement for 4 square metres per person in an enclosed space. On top of this there needs to be 1.5m between people. All our jazz combos can safely rehearse under these conditions as they have a maximum of 8 members. We are just well spaced as we practice. Our 10-piece Little Big Band is also resuming rehearsals.
The Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestra, a youth big band that uses our space, is also back rehearsing but split into two halves: Brass practice in one room while saxes and rhythm rehearse in the other room. This keeps numbers safe and allows for distancing.
In all the rehearsals we try to avoid having musicians sitting directly opposite one another unless there is a large gap. All students wash or sanitize their hands on arrival and departure, no sharing of instruments or folders, students minimize waiting-time, arriving promptly and not loitering after practice, and parents are asked not to come inside the studio. Of course, the school-aged students are all mixing together at school, on public transport, and socially without any social distancing anyway…
So far it all seems to be working well. It is so good to be back together again. How’s it going for you wherever you are? How are you making it work if you are back together again?