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EHS orchestra director embraces new technology to integrate virtual experiences into program

Jan. 24, 2019 - As an orchestra director at Edina High School (EHS), Nicholas Gaudette works daily with students to develop their passion and skill in the world of orchestral music. However, he felt that the program had more to explore and offer, and that technology could help provide those opportunities. The GoPro Fusion, Teradek cube, iPad, and other equipment used for the virtual experience

Gaudette pitched a project idea and received an Educator Grant from the Edina Education Fund. The goal of the 360 Sonic and Visual Experience project would be to use video recording and live streaming for concerts and other events, allowing viewers to engage in a virtual experience with the orchestra. With the grant funds, he was able to purchase a 360 camera made by GoPro, called the Fusion, that provides a 360-degree view of an event. Used in tandem with a Teradek cube, which is used to live stream content to the web, an iPad to allow for mobile control of the devices, and microphones, cords and mounts to help connect the camera to a variety of surfaces, viewers can have a virtual experience with the orchestra. 

So far, the EHS orchestra has used this technology to capture clips from their spring and winter concerts, along with recording their work and fun on the EHS Orchestra tour. Gaudette hopes to integrate the technology even further in the future. 

“I have dreams of presenting more ‘virtual’ concerts online. The idea of giving a concert and loading it up to web, or watching it live on Periscope or YouTube would be really incredible.” Gaudette said. “We have the technology, but finding the time, space is what is most difficult. We currently live stream our concerts, but it would be even more incredible to live stream our process in the classroom so that others across the district can see how we work together as an ensemble."

Implementation of new technology is not always easy. The equipment can take a bit of time to set up, meaning a support team is generally needed. Another drawback comes in the size of hosting such a large file. “The size of the file of one concert exceeds the entire storage space on my school issued computer, Google Drive, and shared school folder,” Gaudette explained. 

Still, he is optimistic about the future of the 360 Sonic and Visual Experience. The group wants to produce and share 360 live streams of future concerts and create more virtual steps into the orchestra experience. He also hopes to have virtual master classes, where he could invite guests from around the world to coach the orchestra on their work.

“I believe that what we have is just scratching the surface of how digital we can go,” Gaudette shared, “I hope to expand these ideas so that we as an ensemble become more accessible to the greater community, state, country, or even world!” 

(The Edina Education Foundation will hold one of their key fundraisers - the Cake-Off! - on Feb. 1. The event will raise funds for more educator grants for teachers and classrooms across the district. For more information visit edinaedfund.org) 

Check out some snippets of the work EHS Orchestra has done. Be sure to use a mobile device and move the screen around to get the full 360 experience:
End of Thriller - https://youtu.be/gEWqt_o1sEI
UpTown Funk - https://youtu.be/MjmEo94ot3g
From The Atrium - https://youtu.be/GtbR3Q1kPdY

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