Our worship video for Easter Sunday included a sound track of our youth choirs singing Mark Patterson’s “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!” Even in the midst of a global pandemic without regular rehearsals, we offered our gift of song, and the bonus was that we had silent video footage of the children singing it from our last Zoom rehearsal! Thanks to some previous experience using Audacity to create recordings for Honor Choir auditions, I knew that I could create one recording featuring our current singers. Parents received a practice recording from me shortly after we began virtual rehearsals. In the week leading up to Easter, I invited my young friends to send an MP3 recording of themselves singing along with me. It required about a day and a half of mixing, editing, and syncing, but it turned out amazingly well. It was a special gift of hope for our congregation to hear the children and youth sing, and also to witness how staying connected virtually these past several weeks prepared them to accomplish it.
What wisdom have I gained? I have learned a lot about each singer’s sweet voice! I have also had an opportunity to hear individual pitch, breathing, and rhythmic issues that I might miss in a live rehearsal. After listening to each recording, I could respond with feedback to individual singers; affirming current strengths and pointing out a few things they could focus on. The knowledge gained from these individual assessments has prompted me to wonder why I haven’t been taking the time to do this with singers all along.
Increasing the visual interest in our online rehearsals makes for more engaged singers. The children look forward to seeing Randy the Racoon at rehearsal each week. Randy seems to notice things that I miss, and the younger children especially delight in trying to copy him. The Zoom recordings allow me to review rehearsals afterward to take note of what went well. Watching myself on video has always been more painful than pleasurable, but I admit that I have really enjoyed observing myself having more fun in rehearsal.
There is still music to learn and to share, but how will we bring this very unusual journey to a meaningful close when our season ends next month? Will we be able to remember this time of distance-singing as being one filled with both hope and gratitude? I hope so.