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Maestra Music Mainstage Technical Workshop


After Broadway shut down because of the pandemic, Maestra Music, a group that provides support, visibility, and community to the women who make the music in the musical theater industry, started a virtual technical workshop series as part of their education arm. I was asked to present two virtual workshops on keyboard programming using Apple's MainStage. 

The use of MainStage in musical theater pits from Broadway, to community theater, to educational and worship houses, has become increasingly popular in the past decade. With ever decreasing budgets for musicians and an increased desire for a more contemporary sound, the need for programmed keyboards to augment and enhance has become a permanent fixture in modern pits. It is not uncommon to see two to three programmed keyboard books in an orchestration, and there are pianists and Music Directors who now specialize in playing a MainStage programmed keyboard book. A MainStage rig requires extra foot pedals, the use of a Macintosh computer, a digital interface, MIDI cables, and programmed patch changes.  


Conceptual Approach

As someone who consistently looks to bridge the gap between disciplines, I have taught myself how to program MainStage, how to set up a rig, how to integrate it into the sound designs and systems, and have developed and engineered best practices for reliable playback of sound cues and sweeteners.


My goal is to understand and harness the technology so that I can design and program my own shows while also collaborating with the sound designer to make sure the synthesized patches and cues blend with the acoustic players and work harmoniously to create a rich aural experience for the audience.

Tech, Collaboration, and Challenges

Speaking to a group of almost 100 people over Zoom, a virtual community was cultivated with people from around the world with varying skill levels and areas of application all discussing an extremely niche program. Looking forward, I wonder how MainStage programming and the assignable quality of MIDI to fire a command can be used in virtual theater presentations via live streaming platforms.


Bellmore Presbyterian Church Live Stream


In addition to working in musical theater, I also hold a position as Director of Music at Bellmore Presbyterian Church in Bellmore, NY. Pre-Covid-19, my duties included liturgical music selection, playing the organ and keyboard, programming for and rehearsing the Senior Choir, overseeing the Children’s Choir director, collaborating with leadership on picking content that is supportive of the thematic sermon series, cultivating live guest performances, and overseeing the implementation and training of youth to run our basic audio/visual setup such as microphones, instrument inputs, a few videos, still image projections, etc. When the lockdown came in March and Bellmore Presbyterian had to close its doors, I realized very quickly that I needed to pivot and adapt to virtual programming if I wanted to keep my job. I reached out to leadership and told them that I would take on the design, implementation, and production of virtual services.


Conceptual Approach Phase 1:
Virtual Pre-Recorded Service

Using a streamlined order of worship that the Pastor and I created, I used Dropbox to collaborate with my team and organize the dissemination and collection of materials with participants. I recorded accompaniment and vocals for hymns and worship songs (sometimes creating and directing multi-artist virtual instrumental and choral performances) using Logic Pro X. I then mixed and mastered the tracks in Logic, and opened them in iMovie. I created lyric videos, had the Pastor and members upload landscape videos of themselves reading worship elements to a Dropbox link. Once all elements were created, I stitched them together in iMovie, uploaded to YouTube, and sent the link via MailChimp to the congregation.

Now on an accessible virtual platform, the church was able to outreach to not only its local membership, but also long-distance members, family and friends of members, and anyone else in isolation who watched our services and felt spiritually uplifted by them.

Please navigate through 3 phases

Tech, Collaboration, and Challenges

The pre-recorded online worship service was created using Logic Pro and iMovie, then uploaded to YouTube. The live stream service was created using the StreamYard web-based studio to broadcast to YouTube Live. Two iPhones entered the studio as participants allowing us to use the studio as a switcher between vantage points and a shared screen. A Scarlett Focusrite was used to interface with the computer's audio I/O. In collaboration with leadership, I have now been awarded $9,000 to install more area mics, hardwired PZT cameras, hire more operators, and subscribe to a premium live streaming platform. 

Phase 1 Reel

Phase 2 Reel

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