Indianapolis Children’s Choir uses music platform to rehearse virtually

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Indianapolis Children’s Choir Artistic Director Joshua Pedde has developed a hybrid program. (Submitted photo)

The Indianapolis Children’s Choir quickly got ahead of the curve when the coronavirus pandemic struck in mid-March.

ICC Artistic Director Joshua Pedde said one of the biggest questions a lot of organizations are wrestling with is, how will they deal with the new normal?

“At the ICC, we’re creating our own new normal,” Pedde said

Pedde, a Carmel resident, said the ICC started off using Zoom when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The ICC then switched to Cisco Webex.

“We worked with (Webex) over the summer and they developed a mode called Music Mode, which allows the sound to be presented to whoever is on the other side of the screen,” Pedde said. “It’s mostly in time. There is very little lag. For all of our virtual things, we’ve been using this, and we’ve had people join our rehearsals with that.”

The ICC offers online and in-person options for choir members. Pedde said the singers have learned they have to keep ahead of what they are seeing visually with the Music Mode. A strong Wi-Fi signal helps.

“It’s almost exactly in time. sometimes it’s off just a slight millisecond or two,” Pedde said. “It’s almost seamless. Of all the platforms we’ve seen, this is the best I’ve seen. We did both our summer camp and our teacher symposium using Webex. It was a great success. We had students from all across the country and teachers from all across the world participate. All of them agreed it was the best online experience they have had.

“We put together a virtual choir where each student recorded themselves and sent it in. We put together the choir and it was aired on WNDY.”

Pedde said every week students can either tune in or attend in-person sessions, which are socially distanced. There are sites in Carmel, Fishers and Zionsville. There also are rehearsals sites in Avon and Greenwood and on the Butler University campus in Indianapolis.

“The students wear masks,” Pedde said. “The room is sanitized and clean. We are only in the room a limited amount of time. The recommended time is 30 minutes. Then we take them to an outside area, and we finish up the rehearsal outside. We have purchased air purification programs that will actually turn over a room in about five minutes.”

Pedde said the in-person students in Carmel are between 12 to 15 and 10 in Fishers. Pedde said when the weather gets cold, the choirs will take a singing break and they can do other activities in the room while the air purification system runs.

Pedde said the ICC is renting space and prerecording the concerts. He said the concerts will be streamed to singers’ families because most concert halls aren’t open, and if they are, capacity is limited.

Pedde has been working with a production company for a fall concert, which will be released online at 7 p.m. Oct. 16. He said a stream is purchased and is available for a week to watch.

“We’re trying to give people the in-person feeling of going to a concert,” Pedde said. “We wrote a COVID handbook for singers that children’s choirs around the country are using. Because of our online platform, we have singers who are tuning in from all across the country. We even have a couple that are down in Mexico.”

Pedde said he is working with Webex to see how virtual singers can be involved in the recorded concert.

“They’ll be singing with us as well from their living room,” he said.

Pedde said the plan is to go forward in the same manner until venues can open safely.

“It offers us a unique opportunity to offer things in a different way and present our form of art to someone who might not ordinarily look at us because it is more convenient,” he said. “They don’t have to get in a car and drive somewhere to hear this. They can go online and listen to it or see it on a TV station. Hopefully, it will open new doors.”

For more, visit icchoir.org.


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