Combining online and in-person rehearsals

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many music groups developed ways of delivering rehearsals online. As groups returned to in person activity, some moved to ‘hybrid’ delivery, using tech to livestream or record rehearsals. This allowed people who couldn’t be in the room to stay at home but still continue to be included. 

There are lots of reasons why you might continue to run your rehearsals and other events this way even now Covid-19 is less of a risk to health.  Some music making groups report that not all of their members returned after the Covid-19 pandemic, and some that they gained new members during the period when they were online who hadn’t been able to attend before.  

We've spoken to groups who have kept the online attendance option for their members because they want to continue to include those who can’t be there in person. Could this be a good option for your group if you want to include more people, or continue to include all your members when they experience barriers to attending in person? And what are the technical and practical challenges to consider? 

Consult your members 

Is your group finding it harder to get people to attend rehearsals? Exposure to Covid and other viruses could be an anxiety, but perhaps there are other reasons why in person attendance is a challenge. Travel to the venue, health conditions and even busy schedules could be barriers, or other things you've never considered. If you know about these barriers, you might be able to offer a solution that would encourage a return. Or you might find out that enough people would welcome an online option and that makes it worth doing.  

You don’t know until you ask. Finding a way of consulting your members – and lapsed members – will make sure you work on appropriate solutions. You don’t need a lot of detailed responses about reasons people can’t attend, you could simply ask: 

  • Do you find it challenging to attend all or some in person rehearsals? 
  • What could be changed to make this easier for you? 
  • Would you like the option to take part in (or watch) a rehearsal online? 
  • If yes, what would you need to be able to take part in (or watch) a rehearsal online? 

You could ask these questions in an online survey, in an email or even by calling people on the phone. When you have the responses, you can decide on any actions you can take to enable people to attend in person (organise travel, request the wearing of face coverings during winter months etc.) You can also decide whether including an online option for rehearsal attendance would be an appropriate solution.  

Options for hybrid rehearsals 

If you decide to offer an option to access a rehearsal online, there are a few options. 

Live stream your rehearsal - There are 2 ways to do this: 

  • People at home can be playing along at home in real time but not interacting with the people in the physical room. 
  • People at home are able to interact with the rehearsal, for example by asking questions. 

There are different issues you will need to think about, depending on which of these options you choose. 

Issues for both Option A & Option B 

  • Do you have enough data / wifi access at your rehearsal venue to enable you to live-stream? 
  • Who is going to ‘look after’ the livestream? They would be responsible for getting it set up, sharing any joining instructions with members joining remotely or troubleshooting tech issues. 
  • What equipment will you need? Is any of this already at the venue, or does equipment need to be bought in or hired. Does it need to be PAT tested? Who will be responsible for looking after it? 
  • How will your MD need to adapt what they are doing to help people joining in virtually? Do they need to:  
    • be more specific about where to go from and where to stop 
    • be more descriptive about what they want using words rather than gestures if not everyone is able to physically see them 
    • repeat any questions that have come from members in the room to ensure they are audible to everyone? 
  • Make sure you explain to members in the room that there are also members joining online so that everyone is aware that this is happening. 

Issues for Option B 

  • How will your MD take questions and requests from people online? You might want to nominate a specific person to keep an eye on this and ask the questions on behalf of members who are accessing the rehearsal remotely. 

In person and online at different times: Each rehearsal could be delivered twice, once in person and once online. People could choose which one to join (or could join both). Delivering each rehearsal twice could mean paying the MD more – you will need to consider this. 

Record your live rehearsals: Recording is easier than livestreaming, but means that people miss out on the feel of joining in live. On the up-side, it is much nicer to join in with a recording of your actual group, rather than just your MD singing or playing, or using a backing track. Recordings can be uploaded to various platforms - Ask people how they can easily watch recordings to make these accessible.  

Other resources: Think about what other resources you could provide as well as – or instead of – livestreams and video recordings.  

  • Rehearsal tracks 
  • Notes from rehearsals 
  • Recommended recordings to listen to 
  • A buddy system – someone who was at the rehearsal could visit someone who wasn’t in their home and go through it with them.  

Get the tech you need 

Many groups gained the skills, knowledge and technology they needed by running online rehearsals during the pandemic. If this isn’t something you tried, we have some resources to get you started. Our Introduction to online rehearsal platforms resource is a good startong point. Our livestreaming guide is written for performances, but applies to rehearsals too. You can read a case study from a group who’ve made this work.  

We have a resource that has more information on live streaming equipment. It is aimed more at live streaming performances where there might be higher expectation in terms of quality. There is no reason to not aim for high quality for rehearsals too – the better it is the more included those at home will feel. But a simple set-up could do the job perfectly well for a rehearsal and there might be some compromises to make on price and quality. Perhaps the lights in the room will be fine and so no extra lighting equipment is needed - or books and sticky tape will do the job fine instead of a tripod. 

Help everyone to be able to access rehearsals online 

Not everyone will be confident enough with the technology to access what you provide online. What can you do to encourage and support them? 

  • Provide telephone or in-person support to help people get online – talking them through the process of accessing your chosen platform (e.g. Zoom) and through the different features you may be using during the rehearsal. This could be done by a confident volunteer, it doesn’t need to be the MD. 
  • Record online rehearsals for people to watch – either so that they can see how they will work (which might help them feel more confident to attend) or so that they can benefit from the rehearsal in their own time. Make these recordings easily available e.g. YouTube can be accessed through a smart TV as well as on a smartphone or tablet.  
  • Plan an online session that isn’t a rehearsal, but is specifically just for people to try logging on, experimenting with the different features and asking any questions. 
  • Buddy people up – someone who is technology resistant could pair up with someone who is more confident. They could come together in one house for the rehearsal.  


We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.