IAYO and UNOF Collaborate on an International Research Project to Test Online Rehearsal Software

In partnership with the Norwegian Association of Youth Orchestras (UNOF), IAYO recently presented a special lunchtime lecture and concert with the Thalia Quartet and Prosjekt MMXX in MTU Cork School of Music. UNOF are a sister organisation to IAYO; all democratic orchestras with young musicians in Norway can become members of UNOF.

This was part of an exciting project which has received EU funding from the Erasmus+ Youth Mobility Fund. The project is to research and test online rehearsal technology.

Thalia Quartet, a chamber music group from Cork, have been participating in online rehearsals with a similar third level group from Norway who are called Prosjekt MMXX. The musicians are rehearsing online using Jamulus. Jamulus is an open source software that enables live rehearsing, jamming and performing with musicians located anywhere on the internet. The Thalia Quartet is made up of four BMus students at MTU Cork School of Music; Kate, Myn, Ciara and Alina.

Prosjekt MMXX are also comprised of music students, the members attend university in Trondheim and Stavanger. Prosjekt MMXX consists of Henrik, Kristian, Justus, Birgitte and Emilie. At the performance Henrik Aarnes conducted the group.

At the lecture, Caitlin Kelly presented her findings on Jamulus and the technology of online practice. Caitlin is an MTU Cork School of Music graduate and she interested in sound engineering, sound design, and sound for interactive media. Accessibility is very important to her and to her research. She is currently studying at MTU Cork School of Music as part of the ADVANCE CRT Programme, it is part of a programme which researches sustainable and independent living. Her PhD research is on the topic of ‘Accessible Audio Extended Reality Experiences in Cultural Heritage Sites for People with Visual Impairments’.

Birgitte Mikalsen from UNOF spoke about the research and the pedagogical aspects of the project. Birgitte studies musicology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Alongside her studies, she teaches at Trondheim Municipal Cultural School and Stjørdal Cultural School.

The possibility of online rehearsals has numerous potential benefits including sustainability and accessibility – both financially and for health reasons. For many musicians, it is not possible to travel long distances every week to rehearse, whether it is a lack of free time, fuel costs, availability of public transport and so forth. Therefore online rehearsal methods could be a supplementary method to in-person rehearsals.

One downside of Jamulus is that there is no video, while some paid online rehearsal software options do offer video. Henrik spoke of the challenges of conducting when the musicians could not see him. The musicians found that slower pieces worked better due to latency issues rehearsing across different countries. IAYO ran a similar project within Ireland and found that there were less latency issues when rehearsing within the same country. One major benefit of Jamulus is that it is free, unlike other similar rehearsal software. The research into Jamulus continues; after the project concludes a guide will be created for orchestras which will assist with online rehearsals.

This April, Thalia Quartet and members of the IAYO team are travelling to Trondheim in Norway where both groups will be performing together again. The recent lecture and concert have been recorded and will be available online shortly.