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Reply to "Advent Worship and Christmas "Programs" during the 2020 COVID pandemic -- ideas and resources"

Virtual Choirs,
Recording Virtual Performances,
and singing together online this Advent

What is a Christmas program or Advent worship without special seasonal music and everyone singing Silent Night and Joy to the World?  The thing is, THIS YEAR choirs and congregations have to be smart about safely singing. It makes no sense to glorify God while spreading a virus that can kill. 

Fortunately, choirs, musicians, singers, and churches have been experimenting quite a bit with ways to virtually sing together, and the following resources share some of their best advice.

Here are the basic options for singing together online:

  1. Small group "live" sing-a-longs (Fun to experiment with if you have the right settings.)
  2. Larger group rehearsals (Quite possible with caveats, see the advice below.)
  3. Online "congregational" singing (Challenging due to software and internet speed limitations. Ask people to mute their mics as they sing along.)
  4. Online performances, both live and pre-recorded. (Pre-recorded requires someone with video editing capability. Live can be limited by internet speed lags causing some to be out of sync.)

The following video illustrates the "lag time" issue when 4 singers attempt to follow and harmonize on a simple piano part. The video after that shows the "setting" in Zoom to enable people to be more likely able to sing together.

The larger your group, the more likely you are to have some singers "lagging behind," which can create a problem for everyone. If they lag behind, have them "mute" their microphones when singing.

Virtual Rehearsal and Performances

Because of lag-time issues and the desire to sing songs for other people's worship and enjoyment, many "virtual choirs" edit together individual video recordings from each singer to produce an online performance.

The following video is a brief rundown of the steps and software necessary to RECORD singers and musicians and edit them together to produce a virtual choir performance. There are several audio and video editing tutorials linked in the video. They mention certain software, but you have more than a few options.

As spectacular as some virtual choirs are (Eric Whitacre, we're looking at you), recording and editing together individual performances is not easy for beginners. This article  Dear Music Teachers: Please Stop Asking How To Create A Virtual Choir Video explains the "how to" and suggests some alternatives, such as using the Acapella app .  Keep in mind that many teens and Millennials edit videos as a hobby for their Instagram and Facebook amusement. Check around.

The following video goes a little deeper into Zoom's setting for improved sound quality for singing with Zoom. You'll be enabling Zoom's "original sound" mode to facilitate rehearsals and the sound coming from the group's musician. 

Thinking of singing or performing together in person? 

See these suggested protocols from medical experts "to decrease the risk of COVID transmission while singing.” In brief:

  • Perform outside when possible. Inside, open windows and doors.

  • Use PPE, at least cloth face masks. Singing is possible with a mask. 

  • When with others, physical distancing of six feet or more appears paramount.

  • Shorten performance times. There is no absolutely “safe” duration, and so organizations should do everything they can to limit the gathering to the shortest possible time period.

  • Limit extraneous activities (eg, breaks, socializing, food, etc.).

  • Wipe down items that have been set up or touched by others before and after use (chairs, scores/paper music, instruments, music stands, etc.).

  • Screen for symptoms, including fever, upper respiratory infection symptoms such as coughing and nasal congestion, loss of smell and taste. Take temperatures of singers prior to entering the space. Remember that some infected patients will not have any symptoms.

  • Avoid direct contact (eg, joining hands).

  • Practice meticulous hygiene. Wash or disinfect hands before and after performances. Singers should not touch their face as part of a warm up exercise or singing instruction method (or anytime unnecessarily).

  • Sick singers should stay home as should singers who have been around a COVID-19 positive patient. Exposed singers should self-quarantine for two weeks.

Other resources and articles of interest:


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