Our groundbreaking 2020-2021 season

Updated June 9, 2021

We began the 2020-2021 season with remote instruction, featuring enhanced technologies and platforms that met our choristers’ musical and developmental needs. Here’s more information about our groundbreaking 2020-2021 season:

Ample class time and instructor attention:
During remote learning, boys received a similar amount of class time as when we had previously met in person. Classes featured group instruction and supervised time to complete assignments. Multiple faculty and staff members were available in every class. Each class had a supporting staffer who could answer boys’ musical and technological questions (either by chat, or by creating breakout rooms where choristers and faculty could meet). All classes and breakout rooms were recorded.

Enhanced learning goals:
We are committed to providing the best in choral music education. We expanded our instruction to include additional subjects that work well online, and which were tailored to meet the developmental needs of each ensemble. Class time included:

  • Choral arts: Individual vocal development, ensemble singing, small group collaboration, arranging, and composing. (Additional possibilities included songwriting, music editing, and music production.)
  • Musicianship and theory: Guided music theory lessons, proctored theory study hall, individual sight-reading development, and applied theory using our current repertoire
  • Notes from the field: Lessons on music history, plus conversations with special guests including composers, publishers, recording engineers, singers, and arts advocates
  • Community-building: Icebreakers, individual performances, and activities that promoted teamwork while fostering individual growth

Advanced technology:
Our faculty spent months testing music technology platforms, and we selected the best ones for our remote learning. Executive and Artistic Director Kent Jue writes: “As an instructor, I am incredibly pleased with the new platforms I have at my disposal. They allow me to focus on creating engaging lessons and beautiful music. The boys are having a rich and rewarding experience. That’s a good feeling as a teacher.”

Here are a few of the technologies we are using:

  • Soundtrap, a collaborative online recording platform (similar to GarageBand, but entirely web-based). It allows choristers to add their voices to group projects, do multiple takes, edit their recordings, listen to what others have recorded, and more.
  • Noteflight, an online music notation application (similar to Finale, but web-based). It allows students to transcribe melodies, compose music, sharpen their theory skills, and more.
  • Google Classroom, which allows us to streamline communication and assignment submission.
  • Ragazzi Virtual Studio: We worked with tech leaders to test an experimental remote rehearsal technology that improves audio quality and reduces latency. Boys in our Primary, Premiere, Avanti, Concert Group, and Young Men’s Ensemble groups are currently using Virtual Studio.

Boys used the most developmentally appropriate technology for their age group, allowing them to focus their attention on learning musicianship. We’ll continue to test and incorporate new technology, and plan to continue using many of these exciting new platforms even after we return to in-person rehearsals.

Concerts and culminating projects:
Each semester concluded with a digital performance. We truly hope to perform in person soon, but safety is our highest priority. Since physical performances were not possible, we produced professional-quality virtual choral projects for each level. Our virtual choir videos from spring 2020 taught us so much about the production, editing, and logistics of these projects. We also produced four virtual concerts utilizing the Ragazzi Virtual Studio to sing together live and in-person from the safety of our own homes. You can see all four of our concerts on our YouTube page.

We had hoped that our our older groups would go on their planned tours during Summer 2021 (with Avanti touring domestically, and Concert Group/Young Men’s Ensemble touring Italy and Austria), however, with safety as our highest priority, have postponed those tours to Summer 2022.

Weekly schedule by level:
Young Men’s Ensemble: Wed, 6:15–8:45 pm
Choral Scholars: Wed, 5:30–6:15 pm, plus individual coaching by appointment
Concert Group: Mon and Wed, 5:30–7:30 pm, plus individual coaching by appointment
Avanti: Mon and Wed, 5:30–7:30 pm
*Premiere: Mon and Thu, 5:30–6:30 pm
*Primary: Mon and Tue, 4:15–5:15 pm
Music & Movement: Mon, 4:15–5 pm

*Premiere and Primary have traditionally met once a week for two hours. During remote learning, all Premiere and Primary choristers will attend two separate one-hour rehearsals each week. We have found that having multiple shorter classes is the best way to engage our youngest choristers online. When we return to in-person rehearsal, these groups will meet Mondays from 5:30–7:30 pm.

Saturday commitments:
All Saturday events (like retreats, rehearsals, and Singing Saturday) are on hold until we return to in-person rehearsals.

Register now for Fall 2021
To register or learn more, please contact the Ragazzi office at ragoff@ragazzi.org or (650) 362-4425. Need-based tuition assistance is available at all levels. We are excited to have you with us!