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Stages of a First Virtual Choir Experience by Kelly Hittle July/2020

When Covid-19 hit, the world of choral singing was devastated. The unimaginable happened. We were no longer allowed to have choir rehearsals. For many, choral singing is important for maintaining one's mental health. Eric Whitacre had the answer, virtual choirs. During the first couple of months after the initial lockdown, virtual choir memberships exploded around the world.

So, what is a choir to do? We put together our first virtual choir video of course! This was an incredible learning experience for us all. As the leadership team supported members of the Chorale during this period, we noticed that many of the members had similar experiences. This article is the culmination of my experiences and thought processes along with some members of the Federal Way Chorale.

Stages of a First Virtual Choir Experience

1. Excitement

Yay, we are going to put together a virtual choir recording. After all, how hard could it be? We are a well-established choir and are good singers. This should be fun. I can hardly wait!

2. Receiving the Tracks

Yay, we received the tracks. This is one of my favorite songs to sing. I love singing along. It was nice to have a rehearsal and see everyone even if it was over Zoom. I got this!

3. Setting up

Okay, I’ve practiced a few times, but I don’t remember what the director said about set up. How does this work again? What do I need? I feel so stupid. I bet I’m the only one that doesn’t get this. Help! This is stressful.

4. Horror

Do I really sound and look like that? Holy crap! That was awful! I should just quit now. Maybe it’s time to just stop singing all together. I’m so embarrassed. How did I get into this choir anyway? They must have just felt sorry for me. I should just stop now. Maybe I will just tell them I had a family emergency. Ugh!

5. Melt Down

I decided to keep going on my recording. I thought this would only take a couple of takes. Why can’t I just do this and get it right the second time? I keep making little mistakes. We sang it memorized last year. It should be easy. It turns out, I memorized it wrong! First, I discovered that I was doing the rhythm wrong in this one measure. In another, I was singing the wrong word. And in another, it was the wrong note! Ugh! Then to top it off, the director changed this one part where we used to take a breath and now, we can’t take a breath there and it's at the end of the song! By the time I get there, I completely forget and have to do the entire recording all over again. Oh, and I forgot about holding that last note. Why does it have to be THAT long? In a choir performance, I can sneak a breath, but not on this video! They’ll just have to do it without me! So DONE!

6. Recovery

Clearly, I had a bad attitude, yesterday. I practiced some more without recording and I think I have all the music right now. Ready, set, record again. What the heck! Why do I do that with my face? It looks like I’m closing my eyes. Why do I lick my lips so much? Do I do that all the time? I don’t like what I’m wearing. OH, my gosh, where did that nose hair come from? I never noticed that before - delete. Oh, great, now I have the hiccups.

7. Recording Success

I finally got this! I can get through the whole song now, I fixed the weird stuff and changed what I was wearing. I feel a lot better now. I CAN do this! Finally, I think I made the best one I can ever make, except for the burp. Oh, well, they can take that out.

8. Uploading

Okay, I am ready to turn it in. How do I do this again? I’m following the directions. There must be something wrong with my computer. Why isn’t this working? After all I’ve been through and now this is what stops me? Oh, wait, I recorded on my phone, duh!

9. Anticipation

Whew! I turned it in and I actually like it. Well, at least I can live with it. What a relief!!! Okay, hurry up and put this together. I can hardly wait to see it and send it to all my friends and family.

10. Final Product

That turned out great. I'm so proud of myself for sticking to it. I hope we do another one.

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