Brentwood School, renowned for its artistic offering, has ‘staged’ over 50 events in dance, drama and music during lockdown.
Below, Matthew Bulmer, director of performing arts, shares his advice for schools wishing to improve their online creative offering.
Balance engagement with entertainment
You want to be creating new things each week but also share footage from recent plays, concerts and performances. We use the premiere option on YouTube to screen previously unseen events each Thursday evening (entertainment) – such as the 2019 Musical and the 2019 Senior Play – and we have a new Chamber Concert every Friday evening (engagement).
These regular events are teased with the creation of trailers and supplemented with longer term projects, such as the Les Misérables Parody, our Evensong service or the Orchestra and Big Band recordings.
Be as clear as you can when giving students instructions
If one recording is done incorrectly it can cause real problems in the edit. It is vital that they all film in landscape, they all use the same backing track (here is where it is useful to get staff together first to make new ‘live’ recordings to fit the purpose exactly) and they check their recordings before submission.
In the eight weeks we have been running our virtual programme we have received almost 3,000 recordings from students, so it is easy to see how frustrating a false submission might be.
Be positive when it comes to embracing the technology
We use Final Cut Pro X and Logic (both programmes have three-month free trials to help during lockdown) but almost any basic editing package will suffice. We were novices at the start of lockdown but with help from old students and using the myriad resources available online, it did not take long to become competent.
Taking early tutorials in using frames (free to download) is a must. It is here, in the edit, where most of the teacher’s work is done and without commitment to this process (from the teacher and likely support for IT support departments in providing fit for purpose hardware) then increasing output will not be possible.
Be creative – this is, after all, what we are trying to achieve
The students will want to participate in a variety of tasks. I would certainly start with a radio play and a chamber concert to master the basics of editing and from there you can quickly become more adventurous.
Do please see the Brentwood School ‘Performing Arts in Lockdown’ playlist for a range of ideas.