The virtual world has solved a lot of problems for the church in the past few months. It has allowed us to connect and have worship with our members during social isolation and lockdown.
However, the virtual world does not come close to solving every problem, especially when it comes to choirs.
Have you ever tried doing song service live on zoom?
If not, try it, and you will see how difficult and unpleasant the experience is.
My church has been having the same issues, and in most cases, we have resorted to playing YouTube videos or having families use one camera to sing.
It would be great if the choir could meet in one place and sing, but that’s not possible or even advisable right now.
So if your church has a great choir and you want them to participate in your virtual worship service, then you should look into a virtual choir.
What is a virtual choir?
A virtual choir is a user-generated choir that brings singers together through technology.
Creating a virtual choir video is a little more complicated than a live performance. There are three main parts to producing a virtual choir.
In this article, I will cover the preparation and recording of your virtual choir.
Please note that your editing will be much easier if you follow these steps.
Table of contents
Step # 1 - Preparation Phase
The preparation phase is critical, and when done right, it will significantly reduce the number of hours you spend on editing. If you intend to produce more than one video, then I recommend you do this part well.
The best part is that you can create a template once and use it over and over again.
Get Cloud Storage
You can start your preparation phase without cloud storage, but it will be challenging to keep track of your files if you are relying on email or text messaging.
Getting cloud storage is easy and free in most cases. Here are some options;
This is a central place to post all your files, such as audio notes and instructions. Without this folder, you will be sending out emails or text messages to your singers. You don’t need a large paid option for this as a free service will do the job.
Dropbox - gives you two gigs of free storage
Google Cloud - gives you five gigs of free storage
Once you have the storage and folder all set up, you will have to invite your singers to a shared folder.
Prepare Your Reference Track/s
Creating a reference track could be the easiest part to some, and the hardest to others depending on the type of song you want to sing.
Singing an old song
It will be easy if you are singing a song your choir members know already. I know that many churches record their worship services, or now that everyone is a professional, smartphone videographer, chances are that you have some videos of your performance somewhere.
So a good place to start would be to collect videos or recordings of your past performances and deciding which song/s you want to sing.
Once you have the song/s, the next thing will be to add it to the folder you created in step one. The best practice is to create subfolders within the folder with the name of the part. Example, tenor, soprano, band, alto, bass, etc.
Singing an original song
Decide if you want your song accompanied by instruments or acapella. The only difference is that you would have to involve a virtual band if you choose accompanied. Unless you have a way of creating the accompaniment track yourself.
Record each voice part separately
Recording audio is easier now than ever because everyone has a smartphone, and every smartphone has a voice memo recorder. You may also record a video, but due to large file sizes, the best would be a voice memo.
Once this is done, throw the songs in their respective folders.
Singing a cover song
Singing a cover song will definitely be easier than the original. If your singers are more experienced and can pick up their parts without help, then a simple YouTube video or song will do the job.
However, if you want to do some arrangement or twist to the song, then you would have to record each voice separately as outlined above.
Once this is done, put or the recordings in their respective folders in the cloud.
Create Recording Instructions
It is most likely that you will only have a couple of days to get your videos ready for worship, and you must get the recordings in the right format.
Decide what video format you want. Do you want video in landscape or portrait? It is important that you communicate this to your singers.
Another thing you should be worried about is audio quality. It’s easy to assume that everyone knows how to record, but that’s far from the truth.
If you can, I highly suggest that you shoot an instructional video on how to properly set up your camera/phone and audio for better sound and video quality.
Step # 2 - Recording Phase
The recording phase should run pretty smoothly if you do the organizational part well. Hoping that you have all your files and folders in order, the next steps should be easy and straight forward.
Delivering the files to your singers
Now that you have all the files and folders setup, you now have to deliver them to your singers. At this point, it shouldn’t matter what communication tool you use.
The most important thing is to send a message with initial instructions on what you want your singers to view or read first.
In this case, have your singers read the “ read me first“ document.
Here are some of the items the read me the first document should includeName of song/s
- The deadline for all submissions
- Recording instructions
- How to navigate the folders, where to find things they need.
How to submit their video recordingsNote: If you used a free cloud service with limited space, you might want your singers to send the files via WeTransfer or share a google cloud folder with you.
It is also important that you followup leading to the deadline to make sure that everyone who needs help gets help and that you have all the clips you need.
One good way of following up is to share a checklist of everyone who’s submitted the clips.
Step # 3 - Editing Phase
It is most likely that you will not be doing the editing yourself and so you must have everything the editor will need to get the job done. Hoping that you’ve collected all the clips you need, it’s time to put everything together for editing and production.
You will again create a folder with a structure similar to the first one. You want to make sure to label all clips appropriately to make it easy for the editor.
If need be, include a “Read me first” with instructions or your vision of what you want the video to look like. If the song is set up in a way that you have different parts singing at a particular time, make sure to let the editor know.
The key here is speed, and the more prep you do on your side, the faster the turnaround, and fewer mistakes will be made.
I don’t know about you, but I like to make sure that I am involved throughout the process. Even though you can’t physically be present when the editing is going on, there are tools you can use to see the editor's screen.
You can easily do a live screen share using any of the video conferencing software you’re already using for online worship and meetings.
Sharing the video
There are several ways to share your video, but if you plan on showing it during your online service, the best way to do that is to upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo.
Most people stream videos from their computers, but that doesn’t always work out great.
Final Thoughts 🤔
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we worship, and no one knows when things will go back to normal. People are confused, scared, and depressed at the idea of social isolation.
The past couple of months have indeed been rough on all of us, and it’s easy for us to think of the negative effects of the virus constantly.
However, as people of faith, we must always have faith that God will take care of us even though the pandemic 🦠. That’s why we must find something positive in whatever we’re going through.
Social isolation is real, and so is our ability to come together to praise God in song. Virtual choirs don’t just sound great but also lets you break the barriers of space and proximity. Nothing can stop God's people from coming together, not even a pandemic.
Go out there and create music; the best thing is that a virtual choir is a gift that keeps on giving. Do it once and bless people around the world over and over again.
Here are some virtual choir videos for your inspiration.
Children’s Virtual Choir
2. Fellowship Worship