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Thinking outside the Zoom box: Discovering resilience, innovation and creativity for large instrumental ensembles during the pandemic
This paper provides readers with insights and strategies to tackle challenges of various remote and in-person large ensemble rehearsal situations, as well as hopefully inspires others to find the opportunities through the obstacles. The authors provide tips and strategies for creating innovative and cross-disciplinary projects and providing valuable experience for the ensemble students in virtual, hybrid and socially distanced in-person educational settings. Strategies presented are gathered from the authors’ first-hand experiences with their large orchestral ensembles (ranging from 50–70 students) during the pandemic. Finally, the authors provide insights on what has worked well, challenges faced, technologies applied and lessons learned during the process. This paper also discusses various creative strategies to highlight collaboration and create a sense of community and belonging in a remote environment. Readers will gain ideas regarding unique teaching concepts for the music ensemble in the current environment including fully remote instruction, hybrid instruction and in-person settings. Matters such as utilising the audio Jamulus platform, engaging students in synchronous format, wellness for the instructor and students, finding value and motivation and embracing technology will be explored throughout the paper.
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Kira Omelchenko is an Associate Dean of Performance and Recruitment, Associate Professor of Music and the Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Music, Ontario, Canada. She has been selected for a prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award for 2023–24 where she will be spending five months in New Zealand conducting, teaching, mentoring students, collaborating with local composers and conducting research in the National Library of New Zealand. During her Fulbright, she will be a visiting scholar and artist-in-residence at the New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī, at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. She is the 2022 winner of the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, a 2022 finalist in the National American Prize in Music virtual concert production category, a winner of the International Conductors Workshop and Competition and is a past prize winner in the Opera Conducting category. Kira has conducted internally in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russian, Bulgaria, Canada and the US. Upcoming conducting engagements include Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Opera Academy, Oregon All-State Orchestra, Orlando All-County Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Waterloo Chamber Players and residencies in New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, British Columbia, Wyoming and Hawaii. She serves on the orchestra panel for And We Were Heard (AWWH), an organisation that brings quality recordings of works by underrepresented composers, and is a mentor for Girls Who Conduct, a programme that encourages the upcoming generation of women, women-identifying and non-binary conductors. Her research on health and music has been published in Health Education Journal, the IAFOR International Arts & Humanities Academic Forum, and she has been a contributing author for Wenger Music Corporation and Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) Panpipes magazine.
Colleen Ferguson is an active performer and teacher of violin, viola and orchestral conducting. She holds both a Bachelor’s (2002) and a Master’s (2004) degree in music education from the University of Texas at Austin. Subsequently, Colleen earned both an MM (2012) and DMA (2015) in violin performance from the University of Iowa. Colleen regularly presents educational sessions at national and international conferences, gives masterclasses and workshops at educational institutions throughout the US and, as the leader of the Herbert St. Trio, performs chamber and solo recitals. Colleen currently maintains a dynamic applied studio of string students at Texas A&M University Kingsville, where she serves on the faculty as Assistant Professor of Strings and Orchestra and is also the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kingsville Symphony Orchestra.
CitationOmelchenko, Kira and Ferguson, Colleen (2023, September 1). Thinking outside the Zoom box: Discovering resilience, innovation and creativity for large instrumental ensembles during the pandemic. In the Advances in Online Education: A Peer-Reviewed Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1.