Choirs Sticking Together Through the Pandemic

Choir directors charge ahead with innovative ways to keep their choirs strong.

Choirs all over the world are struggling to stay together, plan for the future and maintain funding.

Yet, in the midst of these challenges, there are some great stories of choirs building cohesion and using technology to reaching out to the world in new, creative ways. We asked directors share their strategies and ideas.

Virtual Choirs are all the rage– the show must go on!

Manager Baz Chapman of National Teachers’ Choir says:
As I write this we’re still in social distancing lockdown, so no choirs are meeting. Our members, through our Facebook group, suggested we try a virtual choir, so we did an arrangement of the 80s hit ‘Together in Electric Dreams’, which seemed fitting! We dedicated it to all teachers, especially those who are/have headed back to school.

Of course, virtual choirs don’t compare to singing together in person, and it’s a lot of work even for an experienced tekkie, but we’ve found it hugely rewarding to do, plus it’s done no harm for our profile either. So we’ll probably do more.

Jamie Bobick of Smyrna First UMC Choir says:
It’s been so sad to not be singing together twice a week during these times, but we are doing our best to stay connected and find ways to sing together. For our Easter service, we put together a virtual choir which went over very well.

This brought immense joy to all of us to hear everyone’s voices together (We even invited some folks who hadn’t sung with us before– growing the choir remotely!)

Elizabeth Lusty from Love2Sing Choir says:
I have actually opened a whole new virtual choir type thing called VChoir which you can learn about at Though virtual, I was surprised at just how connected I felt when everyone was on the screen in front of me.  People just smile and let loose. If anything, I feel people are way more animated on screen than they would be in person.  I usually have to push for reactions in a live rehearsal but I only ask once in Zoom, and – bam – everyone is waving, giving a jazz hand or copying what I am doing.

Kathy Alexander from Singdaptive says: We know from personal experience how lost and demotivated singers can feel when we can’t be together with our fellow singers and directors. This is why we created a free course to help singers stay creative, keep learning their choral parts and work on their singing in isolation. One topic we address is how to optimize virtual choir rehearsals. The course is included in the free basic account.

Singdaptive’s free course How to Develop Your Singing in Isolation

Producing a music video!

Sue Fink from the Angel City Chorale says:
We’ve turned our energies to making a music video. Each of our members have created a personal video of them singing Christopher Tin’s Sogno di Vilare which he wrote using Leonardo Da Vinci’s words about flying. We recorded it on the Civilization 6 sound track. They also submitted 20 second dreaming videos. We have a drone flying over LA. And we have footage of empty streets.  All of this footage will be merged into a hopeful video that communicates how we, with all of our differences, will get through this crisis and will fly again. We hope to have it released within a month. Through it, we hope to be sending encouragement to all while representing the diversity of Los Angeles as we face these difficult days and months. We are sharing member talents weekly to our 160 members. Sending newsletters to our subscribers.  Each week we put up a new video from our past concerts onto YouTube.

Choirs working toward things to come

Elizabeth Lusty of Love2Sing Choir says:
I was worried that it would be hard to teach without hearing the mistakes people are making but I intuitively know where people are going to find a piece hard, and it is very funny when I say something like, “I know you found the end of bar 9 tricky” and every one nods as if I have a crystal ball!
I recommend choirs who wish to do this, to get a brightly lit space with a neutral background, have the light in front of you and not behind. I also recommend purchasing a little usb interface. Use a mic and if you are using backing tracks put them through this and use headphones.  If you are using Zoom switch on original sound and mute everyone. Finally speak as if they are in front of you at choir – you know what their struggles are and what will be good.

Nina Horvath of Vancouver Bach Choir says:
All things considered we’re doing alright. We’ve moved all our rehearsals to a virtual platform. The shape of this varies depending on the age of the group – our youngest are receiving pre-recorded videos each week they can follow along with. Others are doing virtual rehearsals on Zoom that focus mostly on physical and vocal warm-ups, singing some favourite songs together and having some time to socialize with their friends. Our adults continue to prep some of the planned music for next season with pre-recorded piano rehearsal tracks. This next week I think we will try out first breakout rooms and sectionals!

Jamie Bobick of Smyrna First UMC Choir says:
Our Easter Cantata that we had initially planned had to be postponed to whenever we come back from quarantine, but anticipating the coming of this has helped the choir stay driven toward a common goal I think and maintained a sense of hope and faith that we will see this pandemic through. We are continuing to rehearse the cantata through pre-recorded rehearsal videos for each voice part. I send these out weekly and each contains a preview of the music on the screen so that each singer can follow along.

We thank all of the choirs and choir directors for participating in this article. To see more on what your choir can do check out the article on Juliet Russell’s interview: Inspiring Choirs Across the World When They Can’t Meet.

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