Want to keep your group sharing music and connecting but are worried about the health risks of gathering due to COVID-19?
For those new to online music leading, or who want to learn more about the options available, the information and resources on these we pages will help you decide which equipment and programs will best keep your community playing, singing and connecting. This includes advice about how to get the best results with limited time and a limited budget, and help guides so that you and your group members can adjust to this strange, new, online world.
The options discussed on these pages have been tried and tested by music leaders in the CMVic family since physical distancing measures took effect in March 2020 - we thank them for so generously sharing their knowledge and experience in the peer-sharing spirit of Community Music Victoria.
How to think about online music leading
Leading music online is different from being in the same room. If you aim to simply reproduce what you do in a room then you may end up being disappointed. However, if you adapt your approach to the strengths of online delivery, then you may be surprised how well your groups will respond. Communities need the benefits of community music more than ever, for the very same reasons that we’re having to run sessions online. CMVic leaders have shared many stories of how kind and generous their groups have been as we all struggle to “pivot” our leading to this strange new, online world.
To get started thinking about the limitations and opportunities afforded by online leading, let’s first look at two fundamental ways that online leading is different to face-to-face leading, and tips about how to approach these differences.
The technology chain for leading online music
Online music leading requires a chain of technology:
Leader (L) ← → L’s mic/speaker ← → L’s device ← → L’s internet ← → shared platform (e.g. Zoom) ← → P’s internet ← → Ps’ devices ← → Ps’ speaker/mic ← → Participants (Ps)
Note that half of this chain is out of your hands as the leader. For the whole chain to work, participants may need help at their end with their speaker, device, and using the shared platform. It is difficult for a music leader to take on the role of technical help for each member. Hence it is important from the outset to have volunteers buddy up with less experienced members to help them participate. Further, you can ask volunteers to help run the shared platform (e.g. Zoom) so you aren’t distracted by the screen. Think of this as like asking people to help put out and pack up the chairs at your face-to-face session - people want to help! Asking will free you up to do what you do best - supporting and engaging people by leading music.
TIP: If you are on Zoom, ask a volunteer to run the waiting room, respond to the chat, and help with sharing resources on screen. See the Hosting and Running Zoom Sessions page on this resource for more information.
TIP: Use CMVic Zoom Guide for Participants to help new members get up and running.
Time-lag (“latency”) and the problem of singing and playing together
It takes time for the sound and data to travel along the technology chain, hence you can’t sing and play at the same time as you could when you were in the same room. This time lag between when a leader plays and when participants see and hear it, is known as “latency”. The amount of latency is always changing and depends on the speed and strength of each of the links in the technology chain.
The bad news is that it is physically impossible to have no time lag. Some clever software solutions such as Jamkazam and Jammr aim to side-step this lag, but these require high-quality internet connections and the ability to plug directly into your router - which rules them out for most community music uses.
The good news is that there are many creative ways to deal with this time lag and give your group a sense of musical togetherness. These techniques are outlined in Hosting and Running Zoom Sessions page on this resource.
Important: Due to this time lag, only one sound source should be unmuted (i.e. heard by all) when playing music, and all other participants must be muted. Participants may find this uncomfortable at first and may need support to feel musically and socially connected in other ways during your session. This is discussed in detail in the Hosting and Running Zoom Sessions page.
Go to: Index Page; Choosing the Right Programs for Online Leading; Virtual Rooms for Meeting Up; Hosting and Running Zoom Sessions; Project-based Apps for Making, Performing and Learning; Storing and Sharing Files; Audio and Video: Home Studio on a Budget