Blog: Havin' a blow and a laugh, week two

Week two of the lockdown saw a new challenge for our Chief Executive, Barbara Eifler, and members of her brass band. Here's how she got on.

Following the failure – musically speaking – of our first online meeting, our band chairman set us a challenge for this week: practise your hymn part, printed off from a google drive doc, tune your instrument with a free app, record your part with metronome set to 92 beats per minute, and send it to him to knit it all together. I’ll write about the results next time, but for now – how did this challenge look my end?

I practised my part, then I looked for a free tuning app – urgh, help, they all seemed to have the word ‘guitar’ in the title! In the end I found one called Universal Tuner. Once downloaded, I still wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. This is probably obvious to most people, but I haven’t done this before, as neither singing nor piano require such a thing!

Finally, I worked out the note I needed to tune to and got myself from ‘flat’ to ‘green’, so assumed I was good to go.

Following the chairman’s instructions, I decided to listen to the metronome on my phone with earplugs and ask one of the others in the house to record me on their phone.

First attempt: not so good. I realised that with both earplugs in, I could hear the metronome beautifully, but not actually myself. Try again.

Second attempt: much better, but the recordist wasn’t impressed with sound quality. The phone had been right in front of the cornet bell, though it was about one metre away, sitting on a metal music stand. She decided to have another go recording from a different position.

Third attempt: the phone was placed at a right angle to the bell about one metre away on a book on the bookshelf. The quality was much better! My playing, though, was rubbish – I could hear myself breathing in all the wrong places.

Fourth attempt: as good as it’s going to get! Download recordings from phone to desktop computer, discover they’re not too big to just email, and send off to the chairman.

Extra tip from recordist: take the cover off the phone used for recording, because the cover can stop the sound going into the mic the way the engineers intended it to.

Now for the result? Watch this space...

How is your music group adapting to the situation with COVID-19? If you are part of a Making Music member group, don't forget to join the Facebook Making Music community group to share your worries, online triumphs (or set-backs!) and thoughts about the present or future.

More information about the latest online activity and top tips for making music online can be found in our staying connected resource.