ECCO is preparing for a concert, and although playing in this orchestra is completely voluntary, and a hobby for most – and many of our players have little or no experience of playing in a group before (at least not recently), everyone still wants to improve.
I introduced a very visceral form of reflection: Recording and listening back right away. That way we can think about it as a group, discussing and making changes right away. However, just like hearing your own voice on a recording for the first time, somehow hearing music made externally to the body through instruments can feel equally personal and exposing. In essence you’re revealing your inner, musical voice.
During our rehearsal we played, and I recorded 1 minute, maybe 2 minutes of a song and we listened back. The orchestra were nervous at the thought of listening through the big speakers in the University Chapel. Some giggled. There were little cries of ‘I heard myself!’ and ‘I could recognise the tune!’ and then we talked about it. What was good? What could be improved? Did it sound as they thought it would, as they intended it to sound? How to make that happen when we play it again?
People came up with suggestions, and we practised. Rehearsed. Listened more carefully, and time to test it. We recorded again, and in a few short concentrated minutes there was noticeable improvement. Collective improvement. An orchestral sound. (you can hear the before and after in the audio files)
‘Let’s do it again,’ they said. ‘One more time!’
There’s a lot of joy in these rehearsals and there is definite improvement, week to week, and within each session. Here’s to the next rehearsal!