Dear Islington United Church Senior Choir:
Here is your official invitation to participate in our second virtual choir project! We have been working to continually refine the process so that the project is accessible to as many of us as possible. Our second piece is my arrangement of ‘Abide With Me’ for voices, piano and trumpet. We performed it last year at the Concert for Peace.
As with last time, there are several steps in your journey to participate in this virtual choir:
1 – Learn the Music
2 – Record the Music Video
3 – Submit the Music Video
You are invited on the journey of learning (or refreshing) this piece of choral music and then you will use a guide track to record a video of yourself singing the piece. Once the video is finished, Thom will take all the videos and combine them into one large video so that we get a virtual choral experience. To refresh your memory, here’s a link to our first project:
Each step is explained in detail and there are many wonderful resources on this page to help you accomplish each step along the way.
All videos are due by the end of the day on Saturday, November 28. Thom will be coordinating all the submissions in time for Christmas in Islington on December 13.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do my best to be helpful!
Looking forward to receiving all of your video submissions.
1 – You need two devices: one to listen to the track (through headphones) and one to record your video/audio. (Most newer cell phones work. Tablets and computers are also ok.)
2 – Place camera at eye level and record video horizontally (landscape format); wearing a dark top (black, navy, brown, etc.), centre yourself in the frame, not too far back, ideally against a neutral background; avoid bright lights overhead or behind you – natural indirect light is best; eliminate ambient noise (fans, heaters, birds or anything that hums).
3 – Press record on your chosen device, then press play to begin the track on your other device. Try to smile and look into the lens of the camera (not watching your own face or looking at the music too much). Repeat process until you get one complete take that you are pleased with.
**Hint: Print the lyric sheet and place it near your recording device. If you need to, calmly glance at the sheet, then gently look back to the camera lens.
General tips for this piece: Warm, gentle singing. Not much vibrato. Piano to mezzo-forte range is ideal, without overemphasizing anything. Gentle but obvious consonants placed as accurately as possible. Accordion Content
There are several resources here that will be helpful for you as you learn this piece:
1. A PDF of the music. The music and the piano part will be enough for many of you to learn the piece. For those comfortable with note-reading, this combination will give you everything you need to rehearse the music until you are comfortable with it.
2. Rehearsal audio tracks for all five parts (soprano, alto, tenor and bass). Cynthia has prepared teaching audio tracks for the soprano and alto; I have prepared teaching audio tracks for the tenor and bass parts. These will be especially helpful for those of you who learn more by rote than by note.
I cannot overstate how helpful it is to spend a few days really learning the music with accuracy. Listen to the parts over and over until the melody, harmonies and rhythms are becoming second nature. By the time you are ready to record it, it should be close to memorized.
Okay – it’s time to start learning! Move on to Step #2.
This is the step that could prove to be the trickiest – however, I with a little persistence, it’s totally doable! Hopefully people will more comfortable with this the second time around!
1 – For this project you will need two devices: one to play the piano/click OR practice track when it’s time to record and one to capture your video/audio. In other words, you will play the piano part OR practice track through your headphones (using the first device) so that only you can hear it; and then the second device will record your voice/video as you sing along to the piano part. The video will capture only you singing (not what’s coming through your headphones!).
2 – Which devices work? Well – most newer cell phones have the video and audio capability to do this project as well as tablets and computers. You could also opt to record yourself on an actual video camera – if you have the skill to do that. What did I use? I used my laptop to play the piano part through my headphones and I used my iPhone to capture the audio and video. I found that by plugging in my earbuds, the microphone on them captured my voice really well! You can experiment with whatever devices you have – you’re even welcomed to send me a sample if you’d like to know if it’s working!
3 – When it’s time to start, ensure that you are taking your video horizontally (in a landscape format); try to video yourself against a background that’s not too busy; eliminate any extra ambient noises (like fans, heaters, birds or anything that hums); and wear a dark top (black, navy, brown – something dark).
4 – Set up your camera on a tripod or figure out how to situate your camera so that it’s sitting as close to eye-level as possible. The camera must be still – it cannot be jiggling around. Those of us who have already done it found this step to be a little time-consuming. Getting the camera in just the right place is really rewarding! However you manage it, be careful with your device and try to situate it so that when it’s recording you are as centred as possible and not too far away (check out the sample video again for examples of what we’re going for)!
**Hint: Print the lyric sheet and tape it below your recording device. If you forget the lyrics, calmly sneak a peek at the sheet, and don’t feel the need to bring your eyes back to the camera immediately – it will appear that you are including a “personal moment” in your performance.
5 – Press record on your recording device, move to your performance space and press play on the piano track. Then listen and follow along and, of course, sing when it’s time to sing!
There is no need to count at the beginning of this virtual choir piece (like we did for the first one).
In this picture, Cynthia is listening to the accompaniment track through her headphones which are plugged into her computer (device 1) and then she has her phone set up to capture the video/audio for the recording! And look – she taped her lyric sheet up so she could glance down if necessary and catch the words. Great job, Cynthia!
6 – This takes a little getting used to. I probably did 10 or 15 takes before I was satisfied. Cynthia and Andrew felt the same – doing many takes! And, when you’re finished and you listen back to what you’ve recorded, it will feel a bit funny to hear your voice by itself – raw and ready to be added to the other voices! Be gentle with yourself. Record and re-record until you feel satisfied that you’ve managed to sing all your parts with as much accuracy as possible. If you get frustrated, take a break, go and do some meditation with James and come back to the project a few hours later.
7 – Here are some general singing tips: throughout this entire piece we are looking for warm, gentle singing. Vibrato should be kept to a minimum and only in those places where a little extra warmth is called for. There’s no need to sing particularly loud – your natural singing voice in the piano to mezzo-forte range will be perfect for this piece, of course observing dynamics but without overemphasizing anything too much. Speaking of over-emphasizing, treat consonants with care. No need to have explosive endings with a project like this. Gentle but obvious consonants placed as accurately as possible will be helpful. Even though you are singing by yourself, you have to imagine that you are blending with 20 or 30 other voices!
8 – Finally, in those moments where you are not singing but rather waiting for others who are singing, simply smile and prepare yourself for your entry. No need to stare at the camera, natural is fine! Some of the footage may be edited – depending on the approach that Thom takes – but we need one complete take from everyone.