As every student chamber group knows, balancing the coursework and practice time demands of 5 separate human people with the rigours of high-level chamber rehearsal poses a sizable challenge. Luckily, over our three-and-some-odd semesters working together, we’ve found some tools for success in getting all 5 of us in the same place at the same time for a few hours of productive music-making. Here are three things you should know:
1. When2Meet is always better than Doodle.
Always. When2Meet (when2meet.com) is a scheduling tool that allows participants to highlight their individual availability on a calendar grid. The program then automatically compiles all 5 calendars into a single, colour-coded schedule showing the times where participants’ availability overlaps. This system is far superior to Doodle, which requires that a predetermined (and often lengthy) list of days and times be provided, from which participants may then select their availability.
2. Week-to-week scheduling allows flexibility.
At the university level, chamber music is considered a course, so it might seem intuitive to schedule rehearsals at the same time each week, much as courses are run. However, it is important that chamber rehearsals remain productive and stress-free, and that all musicians in the group are able to prepare effectively before each rehearsal. As group members’ workloads and obligations vary week to week, make a flexible scheduling plan that allows for weekly changes, while working toward a set goal of weekly rehearsal hours. In this way, the goal hours are still prioritized, while flexible scheduling invites healthy, unfettered rehearsing.
3. Stay in touch!
Confirm that all group members are aware of the week’s rehearsal plan, including date, time, and location. If a musician is ill, injured, stressed, or double-booked, they must communicate this as soon as they know! That way, meetings can be rescheduled responsibly. The first person to arrive at a given rehearsal location only to find — inevitably — that it lacks any chairs or music stands, can ask the others to track down chairs and stands en route. Facebook Messenger is an ideal tool for group communication (and also for group goofiness).