Summer is upon us and restrictions are lifting following the wake of the international Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses are beginning to re-open and people everywhere are anxious to get about their business, enjoy the outdoors and contemplate future plans.
Choristers and directors everywhere are also contemplating their next moves. When do we resume rehearsals? Is group-singing safe? Is congregational singing safe? Should we carry on throughout this summer and fall using Virtual Choir Projects?
Virtual Choirs are not just for pandemics; they can be highly effective for memorializing your choirs throughout the years, teaching about music technology and bridging the divides of time and distance for every singer engaged in your program both now, and for years to come.
Choir Memories That Last – The walls of the high school choir room I enjoyed some years ago was lined with pictures of past choirs. I often wondered as a young singer, what the room might look like 20, 30, 50 years later when the walls had no more room for these ever-fading memorial pictures of choirs gone by. Virtual Choirs are a great way to memorialize each year’s choir without taking up physical space on the walls of your rehearsal room. And, isn’t it wonderful that each chorister can retain their own copy of each Virtual Choir in which they participated? Virtual Choirs are a great way to build a living, choral video legacy that can be curated on your YouTube channel, organizational website, Facebook Page or other digital medium.
Music Technology Education - Whether it’s at the movie theater, in our car, or dining in a restaurant, we all experience commercially-produced music on a near daily basis. Virtual Choirs are a fantastic avenue through which you can educate your singers about the processes and technology used to produce digital recordings. There are a wide variety of technological processes used in the creation of a virtual choir that will also carry over in important ways to your ensemble’s live performances:
Treatment of the Audio:
Reverb: When we sing live, our voices echo and reverberate throughout the physical room. When we record ourselves digitally, we largely have to add filters and effects to create that space in the sound. Learning about reverb can be a great way to educate your singers on a myriad of things that will even carry over to live performance. What should they listen for in different rooms? How do different spaces affect timing and tuning? Why do different surfaces and textures reverberate more than others?
EQ: Educating your singers about equalization can give them vital knowledge to help them with everything from stylistic interpretation, to individual vocal quality. Which sections of the frequency spectrum give a brighter or a darker sound? Often in music we use descriptive words to try and communicate what type of sound we want, but EQ can give your singers who are visual learners an opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
Pitch Correction: “Auto-tune”. We’ve all heard the term, but how many of our singers actually understand the intricacies of professional pitch correction? Most will probably picture something like an app on their phone that gives them a digitized voice, but studio-grade pitch correction is a subtle art that involves adjusting specific frequencies, by a fraction of a pitch, note by note. To see some more advanced pitch correction techniques, check out this short demo video from Melodyne.
Treatment of the Video:
Video Technology: There are dozens, and dozens of video editing platforms you could use to make a virtual choir. Some of the most used professionally are Adobe Premiere Pro, or Sony Vegas Pro. While they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses, they also have many common features and tools. Cropping, fading, titles, graphics...there are a wide variety of video editing tools that you can educate your ensemble about.
Video Performance: How your singers perform when they record themselves can be a great point of analysis that will carry over to your live performances as well. You cannot hide your expression from a recording. Have your singers watch back their own videos and critique their performance from a visual perspective. Was their expression appropriate for the piece? Were their vowel shapes correct? Did they engage the audience in a compelling way visually? These are all things that have extreme importance in every area of music performance, but that can be uniquely studied through video recording.
Keep On Singing – One final great reason for periodically creating Virtual Choirs is to help keep singers singing. Think of all the challenges, seasons, places and conflicts that can keep choirs apart: schedules, summers, pandemics, vacations, etc. Virtual Choirs keep singers singing through all challenges and seasons of life. Want to host a 20-year choir reunion? Create a Virtual Choir. Want to keep your choristers singing during the summer? Create a Virtual Choir. Want to unite singers all over the world during a pandemic? Create a Virtual Choir.
May you have a wonderful summer and a productive fall as you begin to re-dream, re-shape and re-implement your choral music program. We offer our services to you to assist, support, uphold and fulfill those dreams.
John & Jay Parker
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