Online everything has become the default. Now, when I schedule a rehearsal, I have to clarify if people will be meeting "in person". And then I have to list the rules for doing so. Tomorrow I will be back in a physical rehearsal space for the first time since the production of Cinderella I was directing was postponed at the start of April. This new concert, The Musical Pioneers, is involving a combination of in-person and virtual rehearsals.
Rehearsing with singers online, using something like Zoom or Skype, is not ideal. Aside from the technical issues a lot of people in Tokyo can't sing in their apartments in the evening. Many people live in small spaces with rules that prohibit them from practicing any form of music at home. There are many small rehearsal spaces to hire, but small doesn't allow for social distancing.
Tomorrow we are using a large enough space so that no-one needs to get close to anyone else. We will be wearing masks, taking temperatures, asking the performers about their health, and doing lots of cleaning we would normally not think about such as cleaning the keys of the piano between each use. We have also created a risk assessment document and have had discussions around things like the use of hard chairs instead of using the soft furnishings in the space as those are harder to clean.
One of the enjoyable things about taking part in any sort of show is the social aspect. But we are not going to have that. We can't allow the performers to meet-up and mingle so we are rehearsing song by song. We are using backing tracks for some of the songs to limit how often we have to use a pianist. We are aware of other productions that were cancelled at the last minute, because one of the performers contracted covid-19, so we are doing our best to make sure as few people meet-up as possible. If someone does get ill we are hoping that it will mean cancelling part of the concert, but not the whole thing.
As well as the additional costs for cleaning and safety equipment, the rehearsal space is larger than we would normally need and is also going to be booked longer than usual because we have to ventilate and also have a gap between each performer to prevent any sort of congestion in the rehearsal space.
All this being said I am still really looking forward to hearing people sing in-person.