The Learning Hub is a specially designed online space for NECOM to continue delivering its ensemble programs during the Covid-19 restrictions. Unlike schools, we have no existing intranet with which to communicate and share resources directly with enrolled students and their families. Although social distancing restrictions meant the postponement of all group music programs at NECOM, the Learning Hub ensured that music education was not put on pause. Designed and managed by the talented Craig Merrick, it is a place for ensemble directors to post tutorial videos, music scores and other activities for students to access in their own time each week.
The Hub comprises three sections:
• The Choral program with specific pages for New England Singers, New England Singers Chamber Choir, Cantilena, Cantilena Chorale and Mini Singers.
• The Foundation Program has pages for Boorolong Strings, Puddledock Strings, Tilbuster Winds and Thunderbolt Percussion.
• The Ensembles section features activities for the community-run Armidale Youth Orchestra, Armidale Youth String Orchestra and Armidale Youth Wind Ensemble.
Upwards of 10 specialised instrumental teachers and choral directors of NECOM programs were involved in creating the resources for the Learning Hub. Each week more content is added and students are given regular updates from their teachers as to what they can be working on over the coming week. Tutorial videos and sing/play-along tracks involve considerable preparation time from teachers.
In the case of the choral program, all vocal parts had to be recorded separately as well as with piano accompaniment. Supplementing these videos are vocal warmups and a wealth of fun activities for our youngest choristers. Significant thought has gone into the sequential lesson planning of the choral activities that will help the transition back to normal rehearsals be as seamless as possible. Similar to the Choral Program, the Foundation Program contains videos of tutorials on how to play each part whether it be violin 1, cello or flute. Puddledock Strings also has some singing, storytime and craft activities to cater to the 6-8 year old age group.
A big thank you and congratulations to all our teachers who have contributed to this wonderful resource that will continue to be of value beyond the lockdown.