There seem to be more public performances using pre-recorded instrumentals nowadays. The arguments for this development are mainly economic, while the arguments against seem to me to be inescapable.

In the last two years, students of mine have participated in three different schools' productions of the same show. One had a live band, while the other two opted to use backing tracks. The live-accompanied show was a stonking success with stong individual performances in a dramatically compelling production, while the other two came over as a bit ho-hum, despite the cast doing their best. 

The live band (in school shows this traditionally depends on the strength and availability of specialist music teachers) can really lift the ensemble, right from the overture. Cautious student performers are given a real boost by having a band of musical experts striding boldly through the music then and there. Without human instrumentalists, a sterile void is left, which has a worse-than-zero effect on the total result..

April 2020