In Sunderland on the 11th July, a great musical event was broadcast to hundreds of primary schools across the nation. The broadcast was part of Connect:Resound, a project run by NYMAZ with UCan Play providing technical support. Why? To make music education more accessible through digital technologies to all children no matter how geographically remote their schools may be.

The four-day festival included fantastic performances from a variety of primary schools, singing three songs such as, ‘Jack he was a Sunderland lad’, ‘Three little birds’ and the popular ‘We could be heroes.’ Part way through the event, a world-breaking attempt occurred. Through the technological solution provided by UCan Play in partnership with NYMAZ, roughly 8000 students, teachers and family members remotely joined the performance to sing in unison. Amplifying the message of unity through music, this allowed NYMAZ and UCan Play to achieve their aim of bringing live music to schools, no matter how rural.

Intensive work and planning for the event since February assured a positive outcome. Emily Penn, the NYMAZ project leader, who was the key coordinator for the event. She stated that the main aim was to, “enable children who don’t often see live music, to partake and experience live music.”

However, as with any broadcast, there were a number of challenges to be faced.

“There were many challenges we had to face, including the camera placements, how to power the technologies, but the extra new challenge was the outside broadcast. We usually plug into a wired broadband connection, however this was not possible on this occasion. UCan Play’s expertise was really valuable, and we decided to hire a bonded 4G machine which allowed almost certainty with our connection and ability to facilitate the broadcast.”

Emily praised UCan Play for their specialist advice and their ability to provide clear technical planning and implementation for the event. Furthermore, she appreciated the thought and time devoted to UCan Play’s decisions.

The UCan Play technical leader Chris Bowes, supplied useful insight into the technical aspects used to make the stream possible. He commented:

“The 4g wireless system worked well, but it wasn’t flawless… it didn’t work quite as well as we hoped.” Due to the lack of wired alternatives, this idea, “made the stream possible.” Research into alternatives is already underway, hopefully resulting in a solution, which would allow there to be successful broadcasts anywhere in the country.

Despite the occasional hiccup, the event seemed to be a tremendous success, with both NYMAZ and UCan Play gaining further knowledge about live-streaming events. The use of new technologies such as Roland’s VR4 to stream the event in HD, the bonded 4G wireless system, higher quality Rode NT55 microphones and new Panasonic cameras, helped improve the quality of the production significantly from previous live streamed events. With a further eight musical events planned over the next three years, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on, and something to listen out for.

Article written by Ben Savage.