Jim Daus Hjernøe in Conversation

by DigitaleBuehne_Admin

The Digital Stage in testing: The Royal Academy of Music (RAMA), Denmark

The Digital Stage in Testing

Jim Daus Hjernøe / Foto: private

The Royal Academy of Music (RAMA), Denmark

Jim Daus Hjernøe in Conversation

Jim Daus Hjernøe is a Danish professor of Jazz/Pop Choir directing at the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark. Jim heads up the RAMA Vocal Center, recognized internationally as the leading centre of innovation within the field. When Jim began teaching jazz/pop choir directing in the 1990s, he developed a learning philosophy called "The Intelligent Choir (TIC)“, whereby each choir member can unlock their musical potential. "Every singer should be aware of harmonic changes and should be able to harmonize a melody line instantly", was the first goal. Nowadays, the TIC method includes three pedagogical areas that are intertwining: Developing the musical skills - rhythm & groove, intonation & pitch, sound & blend, interpretation & expression, performance & concert design - is interlaced with implementing Vocal Painting, a sign language in which a co-creation between the conductor and the singer releases the instruction in the signs. The third element is activating "Kucheza ", a Swahili word that freely means "I am music "- a mindset in which everyone involved feels responsible for the musical co-creation.

In teaching the TIC methods, Jim had employed digital tools for online learning since 2010, when two Danish music academies merged to become RAMA. "I have this natural interest in digital tools and don't hold a master's degree in IT infrastructure. It is learning by doing for me, which is also typical for art schools like the Royal Academy of Music. We are researchers and are experimenting as we explore and develop the field." Around 2012, RAMA Vocal Center was allowed to do selected auditions and exams ONLINE in a pilot project. "It hit me when one of our students came from Brazil to do the audition for one hour. We could do this better because there was nothing in it that we couldn't have done online. When Corona came, we could continue like we usually did because we had all the systems up and running."

House of Music Aalborg / Foto: RAMA

Jim consolidated his experience by using digital tools in his teaching and exploring ways to integrate talented students from abroad into the study program. He devised a learning strategy for RAMA Vocal Center called HyFlex Curriculum Design. HyFlex combines face-to-face interaction with synchronous and asynchronous online elements. He recognized the Digital Stage as a new tool to integrate with HyFlex. "We want to meet face-to-face six to eight weeks per year, and then we have online synchronous activities, where we learn and rehearse, doing classes similar to traditional classes, with attendance, lectures, and discussion periods. And with online asynchronous elements, for instance, videos where I provide a demo that I want everyone to imitate and assimilate until we meet next time, the learning curve has gained significantly." Students can also respond by uploading a take on a voice part, where they have recorded themselves collaborating with other students with the app called Acappella.

"If we imagine a typical face-to-face choir rehearsal to take place every Wednesday night, for those interested, an option is to meet on Friday afternoon through the Digital Stage to sing other songs, go through some new repertoire or practice ear training and music theory." Jim's choir rehearsal room at RAMA Vocal Center has state-of-the-art microphones on the ceiling, online access via a large screen, three PTZ cameras in different places, and the facility to record all the sessions. In this way, a singer who cannot participate in person for whatever reason can join online or see the video afterwards in professional quality.

The HyFlex components have been tried and tested for ten years. It is beginning to spread to be used in other locations, as is the TIC methods - the university in Jerusalem, for instance, is now having a weekly course in Vocal Painting. "An alumna from RAMA is doing the classes, and then frequently, I show up to give a master class to move on and evaluate, collaborating between our academy and their university."

Each collaboration enriches the experience of HyFlex, and another exchange of experience was the conference "Experimentarium #3 - the Future is in our Roots ", which Jim co-organized with colleagues in Turku (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia) and RAMA Vocal Center in Aalborg on September 29 & 30 this year. The conference, at which Fee Altmann and Christof Ruch presented the Digital Stage system, was the closing event for a two-year activity revolving around digital solutions in music. The main focus was on experimenting with master classes where teachers and participants don't have to travel in person all the time. Another major topic included the future possibilities of audio and video design.

"Many new possibilities open up, and we should not be afraid." A projection of future options would be a virtual reality with multi-cameras and low-latency equipment, where one can sing with a choir, look to the side, and meet colleagues. "I provided an app for Vocal Painting, where people can see me on video showing how the signs work. The next level could be a virtual reality with a reaction coming back, and a dream would come true if I could integrate more from that into the Future of teaching the TIC methods."

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