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How One College is Holding Real-Time Remote Rehearsals

Moody Bible Institute’s vocal and instrumental programs faced having to rehearse with players remotely separated. Professor David Gauger found a solution.

Moody Bible Institute’s vocal and instrumental programs faced having to rehearse with players remotely separated. Professor David Gauger found a solutio, centered around Jamulus software and TASACAM recorders.
Vocal and instrumental programs at Moody Bible Institute faced having to rehearse with players remotely separated. Professor David Gauger found a solution, centered around Jamulus software and TASCAM recorders.

Chicago, IL (November 9, 2020)—Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute, a Christian institution of higher education with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois, faced the same issues with its music programs this fall that thousands of other educational facilities have—how to safely hold real-time rehearsals in the time of COVID-19. Dr. David Gauger, D.M.A., an Artist/Professor of Music at Moody Bible Institute, found a solution that worked for his groups, centered around Jamulus software and TASCAM recorders.

“Our plan is to have all of our live rehearsal groups use TASCAM DR-05X recorders as a front end for the Jamulus low-latency software,” Gauger explained. “We purchased 30 recorders in August 2020 [so that our] Collectives each rehearse twice a week for 90 minutes, the Jazz Band rehearses once a week for an hour, and the Worship Leading course has had several online rehearsals.”

As an example of the process, Gauger described the situation with his vocal ensembles, “The solution to safe, ‘social distancing’ in a rehearsal environment caused us to seek another solution, which was to put every singer in their own room. College dorms function well for this, as each room provides isolation and does not raise the risk of infection, assuming that precautions are adhered to, such as opening the window for ventilation.”

“Allowing the singers to hear each other and be heard can be accomplished using the Internet,” Gauger continued, “but typical video conferencing software works very poorly for this due to long and somewhat random latency differences between singers. Singing together requires much tighter tolerances than typical video conferencing solutions provide. In the last few years, several developers having been writing low-latency software to solve this problem. We chose Jamulus because of its data requirements, the ability to set up and run your own server to keep your data ‘in-house’, and the fact that it’s open source software.”

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According to Gauger, the signal chain starts at the TASCAM DR-05X and goes to USB input on a computer running Jamulus. Next, it heads via Ethernet connection to the Jamulus server on campus. Students hold the DR-05X like a handheld stage mic and are instructed to sing over the top of the unit as opposed to directly into it.

Gauger described a typical rehearsal, “In worship teams, there are singers plus a rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, guitars, synth). While the six singers are in their dorms singing, the rhythm section is assembled in a recording studio that has mics, a mixing board, and a headphone monitoring system. They are all socially distanced and are wearing masks. There is a screen with a projector showing the Zoom meeting with all the singers in their dorm rooms. There is a camera in the studio feeding the Zoom session. This enables the singers to see and hear the studio musicians while the studio musicians can see and hear the dorm-based singers. At the same time that Jamulus is handling the audio, we run a simultaneous Zoom video conference, enabling everyone to see each other—but the Zoom audio is muted, and the only sound heard is from Jamulus.”

“The DR-05X’s ability to serve as a stereo microphone, low latency USB audio interface, and standalone recorder is huge,” he added. “I also found the DR-05X’s sound to be impressive and its omni mics mean it is much less susceptible to the proximity effect typical of cardioid mics. The fact that the DR-05X not only functions as a mic, but also as a recorder and interface to other audio software is huge. The unit is truly multifaceted.”

Moody Bible Institute •