We’ve made it through Holy Week, the fourth week that we’ve all been sheltering at home here in Minnesota. I’ve had four Zoom rehearsals with my youth choirs and am learning a lot about the benefits and challenges of using the Zoom platform with my singers.
Bringing the Music Home
My goals early on were to keep our youth choir singers connected to the music and to one another, and to keep them singing during this uncertain time. After several rehearsals now, I’m fairly confident that these goals are being met. With each passing week, however, I’m realizing just how much our songs and the spirit of our little community are seeping into the everyday fabric of the entire family. Parents are hearing the singing voices of their children wafting throughout the house. Younger siblings are photo-bombing the laptop screen, but also learning the songs their big brothers and sisters are practicing. Words of scripture set to catchy melodies are reverberating around the kitchen as meals are being prepared or put away. One younger sibling belted the refrain to our Easter anthem up and down the street after rehearsal! I’m beginning to realize that I had been holding on to the music we share in worship as somehow belonging uniquely to the church. It does not. It belongs wherever it is shared.
I freely admit that my learning curve was steep. My hopes for Zoom to fully support my style of teaching were dashed pretty early on. Having to be both accompanist and director meant that I could not observe singer responses. Moving from the piano bench to a standing position created awkward laptop screen adjustments. Asking singers to mute themselves one minute and unmute themselves the next seemed like such an inappropriate thing to be saying to singers. Toggling between speaker view and gallery view and having to hit the admit button with each singer arrival was taking away precious singing time. (Just to brag, by rehearsal #2, I was screen-sharing PDFs and Word documents and feeling pretty darn fancy!)
There’s no getting around the fact, though, that Zoom is just not yet sophisticated enough to allow a group of singers to sing at the same moment in time. While this has been a disappointment, it has also sparked my imagination to come up with new rehearsal techniques and even some at-home recording assignments to further personalize the experience for singers. More on that next time!