How to Maximize Your Practice Time
Virtual Acoustic Technology in the Rehearsal Space
By Denny Meyer, sponsored by Wenger Corporation
Transporting your rehearsing students from their recital hall to the real-life performance venue in just a push of a button may seem quite futuristic. Wenger’s VAE Rehearsal System has made it a reality today, and it’s transforming the future of music education.
Teaching Students to Listen
What musicians hear in a rehearsal room can be quite different than what they hear on the stage of a recital hall, concert auditorium or contest venue. That’s because of the vastly different acoustical properties in larger spaces. An essential part of music education is training musicians to understand:
- How sound behaves in different performance spaces
- How to adjust individual and collective sound to the space
- How to maximize rehearsal time
Virtual Acoustic Technology Is an Educational Tool
The VAE (virtual acoustical environment) Rehearsal System gives students a powerful tool for learning how to play or sing in different acoustical spaces—without leaving the rehearsal room. Using a small, remote keypad, the instructor can change acoustics instantly, and record and play back passages for immediate feedback and learning.
In addition to the eight standard virtual environments, Wenger can customize a setting that mimics your own auditorium or performance space. Here are the eight standard settings:
- Large Auditorium
- Small Auditorium
- Large Recital
- Medium Recital
- Baroque Room
- Practice Room
The system itself includes a keypad, a series of wall and ceiling speakers (for play back), microphones and a digital signal processor.
Case Study: Central High School Marching Band
Spectacular halftime performances by marching bands don’t magically happen. For example, the Central High School Marching Band in San Angelo, Texas, rehearses a great deal to get the notes and the moves just right, especially for homecoming.
“We have a lot of rehearsal, a lot of extra practices,” said Joel Ashbrook, director of the band. “Out of all the groups involved in homecoming activities, the band has really twice as much work to do.”
Their performances take place in a stadium; their practices take place in a windowless rehearsal hall. The difference in acoustics between their rehearsals and their performances was a big challenge. When the high school chose to renovate the band room, the project included a VAE Rehearsal System from Wenger.
It’s been a game changer. By simply pushing a button, Ashbrook can change the acoustics of the practice room to match the school’s football stadium.
“If I know our marching band is playing at a large stadium, I’ll select the sports arena setting,” shared Ashbrook. “It improves our precision, and balance and blend issues, such as the percussion battery to the upper brass.”
He added that for young people, in particular, the ability to hear themselves and cross-reference is a major teaching tool. “It’s very effective, and it’s already made positive results. This lets students work on a level of precision that they previously could not do.”
When VAE Rehearsal was first installed, Ashbrook said his students had an interesting reaction. “Initially, they started looking around, and their heads went down, like ‘Uh-oh,’” Ashbrook recalled. “I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ They said, ‘You’re going to be able to hear everything we do.’ I said, ‘That’s right, and more importantly, you can hear everything you do.’”
Hearing is Believing: Experience Virtual Acoustics
Want to learn how music education is changing? Visit VAE Rehearsal System to find upcoming demonstrations near you or to request a demonstration.
About Wenger Corporation
Wenger Corporation provides innovative, high-quality products and solutions for music and theatre education, performing arts venues and athletic programs. For more information call +1.507.455.4100 or visit Wenger Corporation. Follow Wenger on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Wenger was a Silver Sponsor of the 2017 National In-Service Conference, which took place November 2017 in Dallas, TX. The 2018 conference will take place November 11-14, 2018, in Dallas, TX; sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are available. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Denny Meyer is a Product Manager for Acoustic Products with Wenger Corporation. During his 28-year career at Wenger, he has held various sales and marketing positions, and helped author several Wenger Planning Guides, including Acoustic Problems and Solutions for Rehearsal and Practice Spaces. Meyer has presented planning seminars for music facilities at conferences of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, and the National Association for Music Education. He received his B.A. degree in Music Education from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, and is a graduate of the Minnesota Executive Program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
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