Here is Danny Lane’s personal description of what it was like taking part in Music and the Deaf’s first online concert:
For the very first time ever, Music and the Deaf streamed a musical evening concert on Facebook Live featuring a wide range of pieces performed by myself, Sean Chandler and Jenni Cohen.
I have to admit that the idea of running a live concert online was rather nerve-wracking at first, as we had no idea how many people would actually watch us and how accessible it would be, particularly for deaf audiences. Also, we were using technology. It worried me slightly that we might lose connection during the live event!
The musicians performed together at Bates Mill in Huddersfield, alongside an expert team of broadcasters called Paradigm Creative. Previously, we tested the idea of performing remotely in our homes, whilst Paradigm Creative mixed our individual streams into one programme. However, this was not going to work as we had a single microphone each and our individual internet connections were not reliable enough. We agreed to work together at the Bates Mill studio with social distancing as we had the advantage of using multiple cameras, microphones and lights. We knew that through this way, we were able to provide the most realistic concert experience that was possible for our audiences.
We positioned ourselves in own performance spaces during the countdown prior to the concert going live. It was rather surreal not having an audience in the room. Nevertheless, the technicians and musicians were extremely supportive, providing each other smiles and applauses after each performance.
When the live stream connection was switched off at the end of the concert, we were all jumping up and down with pride and joy! We wanted to congratulate one another with hugs but this was not possible due to social distancing. Soon afterwards, we looked on Music and the Deaf’s Facebook page and were immensely delighted with the response that we received from our audience. There were 95 comments made during the live event and feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with some of the audience members saying how much they related to the pieces that we played:
‘Brilliant pieces, it de-stressed my evening…’
‘All three of my kids are in bed with me listening and it’s beautiful!’
‘My dad used to sing this. You’ve just sparked lovely childhood memories’
‘A joy to listen to. Foot tapping. Stunning stuff’
‘I hope you do more virtual stuff.’
The video of the live event remained on Music and the Deaf’s Facebook page, which gave more people the opportunity to view it. In total, we have currently reached 3,720 people from all over the world including Greece, Australia and Peru.
We are incredibly grateful to Arts Council England for providing us an emergency grant during the lockdown, which helped us to test new ways of working and to continue providing accessible music opportunities. We were also extremely delighted to support Arts Council’s Let’s Create Strategy, in terms of removing geographic and economic barriers for audiences and bringing live musical experiences to people’s homes online. Deaf people are dispersed across the country, and approximately 85% of deaf children and young people are in mainstream schools which makes this community extremely challenging to reach. Our virtual concert has proven the potential to reach more audiences wherever they are based, including deaf people, compared to the numbers that we reached in previous concerts.
We received feedback from some deaf audiences following the event and will be using their suggestions to help us make our next concert even more accessible, not only exclusively to deaf audiences but to anyone who is watching. Some of the advantages of providing online concerts include the fact that audiences are able to interact during the live event, we were able to find out ourselves what impact we were making, there are no barriers to the number of people being able to watch, the event is saved automatically for those who were not able to attend the live event, interpreters and captions are visibly clear on the screen and there is still more potential to add features which make the event more accessible such as live narratives and visuals.
Our next online concert will take place at 7pm on 26th November. We do hope to welcome our audience again and hopefully more people next time! If you wish to attend our next virtual concert, please join our Facebook page so that we can keep you updated.