The NKK NXT trainees, part of the talent development programme of the Netherlands Chamber Choir, are creating their own performance during Covid times. Like the Netherlands Chamber Choir itself, the trainees are faced with new challenges because of the pandemic and have to find new ways to create, develop and rehearse for their performance. Two of the trainees are blogging about their experiences on our website, sharing not only the struggles but also the joy of creating something new with a group of talented young singers and creators. Read more about the NKK NXT programme on this page!
Dear Readers, welcome to the first installment of our fortnightly NKK-NXT blog! In this epistle, we from the next NKK NXT group will keep you update one our process of creating a performance. Though we tried for a moment to write the blog with all nine of us, the chosen method of writing one word per person was not the most fruitful, at least to attain a congruent storyline to be followed by you, the reader. So Ariel and Jobbe, we pushed aside our lovely singing buddies to concoct this written form of a behind the scenes sneak-peak that is our bi-weekly blog.
For those of you who have been paying attention, on the various social media, well done! You know who we are, and as a reward you are allowed to skip this alinea. Hurray! For those of you who prefer to live in the 3D world, I am sorry you have to encounter this in its 2D-digital form. However, as you are still here let me introduce ourselves to you! On even moments we have our lovely Ariel, a fresh graduate from HKU Utrechts Conservatorium. Since it’s getting a bit tricky to speak freely in her hometown Hong Kong, she is very happy that she can stay here and bother us with her incapability to stop speaking and we love her for it!
On the uneven moments it’s me, Jobbe, originating in the same build year, who also hails from a place more south than Utrecht, which however can be reached by crossing two mere rivers rather than 3 vast oceans. He does not speak as much, but his written sentences are trice as long. Well with this combination of sharing people, you are sure get to your ‘reading-times’ worth.
Right, back to blogging business, hello regulars, great to have you with us again.
“As singers we love nothing more than to stand together, burst into song and merge our voices to spread all the love and process the despair we experience in life. Singing together in one room, what could be better? This the job I signed up for….”- I find myself typing as I close off another workday behind the screen, not having sung since 2020. Indeed also the NKK has to deal with the lockdown, which means no live rehearsals for our group at the moment. And though not to have a soprano trying to hit the high Q right next to your ear or for a tenor to overly extend the fermatas because “the sound is so nice”, is a refreshingly calm experience; our souls are sobbing at the silence, for the increasing stack of sounds unsung.
Luckily we have a show to create for June, which at the moment means online meetings for discussions, decisions, divisions, directions and agreements (yes I ditched the dis- on purpose;)). Like most of us, we have to work from home and are, probably like most of you, discovering the pleasures of working at distance. Now not to make a “five things you recognize because you Zoom too”-style list, but, undoubtedly over the past year you too have seen people talk, but did not hear them; have had your boyfriend playing clarinet in the background while you were trying to make a really valid and important argument; or sat in a meeting without pant because, ‘hey, why not?’. But let’s face it, online meetings are long, repetitive, and exhausting. Therefore I would like to share with you some little thing we are incorporating in our zoom sessions to overcome the deep numbing, instigated by staring into thousands and thousands of bright LEDs.
Firstly: check-in. It is very simple, we takes turns to speak, starting with our own name, and then telling shortly what is on our minds or in our hearts, and ending with “I have spoken!” The others acknowledge that statement with a single unison “HO!” and then the turn is passed to another person. This is repeated at the checkout of the day, and for us it has become engrained to such an extent that if we skip it, the session feels incomplete.
This neatly brings me to a second point: moving around in the meeting. Since we are real living beings, witting like a statue and staring at the screen is not our natural instinct. So we take small breaks and do quick movement exercises together. It helps our blood flow and refreshes our fried brains for all the important tasks.
Thirdly, indeed the passing of turns is a very valuable way for discussions with a larger group of people. Obviously in heated discussions on cultural appropriation there are a lot of things to be said, but with raising your hand and waiting in turn, each of the opinions get to be heard and it really helped us to get our group process flowing.
And, last but not least: BE CRAZY! As one week ago our lovely aiding hand Imre told us to not just go into serious mode, we are human beings, surprise each other, do something unexpected, and try to make it fun, of which here is our lovely result!
That’s it–a little insight into our endeavor to communicate online, we really hope to be able to sing together again soon though, because without blending it stays rather… BLAND.
My sincerest apologies to the editors for making this blog once again longer than intended, but hey, that’s what you get from a man with nimble fingers and ample words on his mind. Next Up, Ariel will share with you our first meeting in a long while. So stick around and stay safe, I have spoken! (Distant echoes: Hooooooooooooo!)