IAYO Collaborate on an International Research Project

In April, Sinéad Ryan and Rachel Dunne Lambe, members of the IAYO team, travelled to Trondheim, Norway along with the Thalia Quartet from MTU Cork School of Music as part of an international research collaboration with Unges Orkesterforbund (UNOF).

UNOF is a sister organisation to IAYO; all democratic orchestras with young musicians in Norway can become members of UNOF. This visit was part of an exciting project which has received EU funding from the Erasmus+ Youth Mobility Fund to research and test online rehearsal technology. Thalia Quartet participated in online rehearsals with Prosjekt MMXX from January 2023 to April 2023 led by conductor Henrik Aarnes. The musicians rehearsed using Jamulus, an open-source software that enables live rehearsing, jamming, and performing over the internet.

The Thalia Quartet, founded in 2021, is made up of four Bachelor of Music students at MTU Cork School of Music; Kate, Myn, Ciara, and Alina. Prosjekt MMXX consists of Henrik, Kristian, Justus, Birgitte, and Emilie, music students who attend university in Trondheim and Stavanger. They founded Prosjekt MMXX in the Spring of 2020.

In Norway Prosjekt MMXX and UNOF showed the Irish visitors around Trondheim, including a visit to the Ringve Music Museum, Norway’s national music museum. Both groups then performed together in Trondheim Public Library, Birgitte Mikalsen, President of UNOF and researcher on the project, and Henrik Aarnes, conductor, presented their findings and experiences 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 fewer latency issues when rehearsing within the same country. One major benefit of Jamulus is that it is free, unlike other similar rehearsal software. Another benefit is that Jamulus works even with low bandwidth.

In February 2023, UNOF and IAYO presented a special lunchtime lecture and concert with the Thalia Quartet and Prosjekt MMXX from Norway at MTU Cork School of Music. The lecture and concert in Cork were recorded and are available to watch on IAYO’s YouTube channel, watch the video here. The next step of the project is to produce a guide for orchestras which will assist in online rehearsals.

This project was funded by the Erasmus+ Youth Mobility Fund. The European Union programme Erasmus+ funds youth projects across Europe. This is to provide non-formal and informal learning opportunities for young people so that they can acquire competences that improve their personal and socio-educational development.