Going Virtual During Coronavirus

The Bathtub Orchestra has had to quickly adapt to the reality of the lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. We already had to make a heartbreaking decision early on to cancel a gig that was going to be on Bath Half Marathon Sunday. At that point the government was not advising anything other than washing your hands regularly, but we needed to take a further decision on whether to continue rehearsals which are inevitably very interactive! With a number of members being in high risk groups we decided the prudent decision would be to suspend rehearsals until further notice. Roll on a few days later and the government announced social distancing, followed soon after by the closure of schools. We felt somewhat vindicated in making a decision which was ahead of the curve, but it did not take the pain away from having to suspend all rehearsals for an undetermined period.

Some might say ‘so what, rehearsals will start back up again at some point?’ But the Bathtub Orchestra is more than just a fun activity to do each week; since its founding just over a year ago, the orchestra has grown into a twenty plus strong community of like-minded people coming together each week to play music and enjoy the process of learning. Friendships have been made and the absence of rehearsals have made everyone realise what they were really missing from the orchestra apart from the music.

But music cannot be halted by anything, let alone a virus. Music always finds a way to continue. Deafness was not enough of a hurdle to stop Beethoven in his life long quest for musical perfection. Unlike Beethoven, we now have a wealth of technology at our fingertips to create and share music!

And so the Bathtub Orchestra has now embarked on a new, temporary chapter in its story. Each member is in the process of recording some of our repertoire in isolation, sending the tracks to me to arrange into a full scale studio recording!

Multi track recording

This is effectively a form of multi track recording, where each musician plays their part along to a backing track. The backing track plays through their headphones so the recording device only picks up the sound of their instruments.

The process of doing this is in some ways more challenging than playing in a group, as you have to be perfectly in time! It also gives you an instant and somewhat disconcertingly detailed analysis of your playing and technique! The challenge is very real, but the progress you make as a musician is just as rewarding.

We will then be working on a video performance of a new song, using simply a cameraphone to capture the individual performance for a much bigger video presentation. This will be a wonderful way to announce that the orchestra is still very much alive and working hard! When normality does resume, we will be ready to hit the ground running with some new repertoire. As the musical director, I cannot wait for that first rehearsal back and it will make all the hard work during these strange times even sweeter.

Edward Bettella - Musical Director