Getting the Most out of the Wenger Practice Modules

As many of you know, The University of Iowa was flooded in the spring of 2008. The Voxman Music Building was irreparably damaged, so the School of Music has been in temporary facilities since that time. The university contracted Wenger to install offices and practice rooms in our temporary facilities. These practice rooms have a module in the wall that allows the user to modify the sound by selecting any of a number of sound options, such as “Practice Room,” “Large Recital,” and several other options. I believe that using the presets on the modules has been the primary use up to this point. On occasion, I witness students using the built-in recording and playback feature. The opportunity to get instant feedback is an essential tool for developing (and professional) musicians. There is, however, a feature that I believe has gone completely untapped. As one can see from the image below, there is a device-end USB port on the module; this is the same device end as your USB printer cable (the same cable works here).

Once you have recorded one or more tracks, you can then plug in a USB cable to your laptop or iPad (30pin to USB adapter required).

The necessary USB cable:

Once plugged it, the device will show up on your computer as “HDMain”:

Double click “Wenger” to open the drive, then select and drag the recordings to your computer.

Once the audio files are moved to your computer, you can add them to iTunes (or your desired media player) or edit them with your software of choice. Upon the initial playback, you will notice that the playback quality is significantly better than the in-room playback in the Wenger rooms. This means that the built-in microphones are of a higher quality than the speaker counterparts. You will get better feedback on tone quality by moving the recordings to your computer/iPad.

These recordings are not of the quality necessary for competitions, demo cd’s, or graduate audition recordings as there is no natural reverberation, but students will gain much by using the highest quality recording possible when self-assesing performance.

2 Comments

  1. This is fantastic! One of the thinks we’ve talked abouta lot in the tuba/euphonium studio is to utilize all the resources available to you, and with these Wenger Virtual Accoustic rooms, we have a great resource!

    I use the record/playback option very frequently during lessons, but I never knew how to transfer the files. Here are some ways my students and I have used the system:

    • To learn to play a high passage accurately, record it down one octave, repeating it 5 or 10 times with a metronome playing. On playback, having counted yourself in on the recorded version, play along with the low octave version.

    • To determine if and how you are rushing or dragging, record your performance normally, then conduct along with the recording on playback

    • To assess how accurate your mouthpiece buzzing is, listen to a recording using headphones and your iPod while buzzing. Record the result and playback to see how accurate your buzzing is.

    • To memorize a passage, record it ten times in a row (using a metronome and counting yourself in) and playback multiple times. Using Dr. Allen’s method, you could save the result and transfer it to Garageband or audacity and create a much longer loop.

  2. One way we have used the Wenger module is to play and record the background/orchestral part for an excerpt; for example, playing the bass line to Ravel’s Bolero – |C-G-G(8vb)|C-G-GG|C – and then playing the solo on top of it. This accomplishes many things: first, you get more comfortable with entering on a flat seventh scale degree; second, you function as your own metronome; third, you get more comfortable with the pedal aspect of the piece – when the harmony of the solo changes, but the bass line does not.