During the pandemic
We invite you to join our Chancel Choir’s virtual practices on Zoom, Thursdays, 7:15 to 8:30. To find out how to join, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Pat McKee has been hosting the meetings during our regular choir practice time for social support and to stay connected. In September, our social meetings became genuine choir practices. Currently the meeting time is opened 30 minutes earlier (6:45-7:15) for the sole purpose of having some time to chat with each other before we get down to our practice. Some people join for just those 30 minutes.
Here’s how we create our music currently!
by Cathy Dodge Smith
A fascinating process
Step 1. Deborah selects our music, making sure it is music we have the rights to put up on You Tube.
Step 2. Deborah goes to the church and puts together an envelope of music for every choir member who wants one, making photocopies as necessary. She delivers the envelopes to Carol Gilchrist, Choir President.
Step 3. Choir members pick up their envelopes from Carol’s front porch, with music for the next few months. (Carol also facilitates mostl communication between Deborah and Eran and choir members.)
Step 4. Choir practice takes place on Zoom on Thursday evenings. Here is where it gets interesting. After a brief check-in and warm-up with Eran, we are all muted as Deborah ‘talks’ us through the piece we are going to work on. In that process, she tells us where to sing loudly, where softly, when to crescendo, where to breathe, where NOT to breathe, where to pause, and where to be sure to put a ‘t’ on the end of a word. She tells us where she wants the sopranos to really sing out, where she wants the tenors to bring out a lovely line, and where she wants lots of base. We altos are just there.
Step 5. With Eran at the piano and Deborah conducting, we are muted as we each do our best to sing our own part at home, unmuting to ask questions when we are confused. We might go through sections of the piece that are tricky, and finally go through the entire piece once or twice. Repeat with the next piece.
Step 6. Deborah and Eran send us practice recordings of each part so we can practice our own part at home. Deborah and Eran send us a video for the next anthem we are to record, with Deborah conducting, and Eran on the piano.
Step 7. When we think we are ready, and by the required date, each of us records our own part, singing alone at home. This requires two devices: one on which we can listen to the accompaniment through earphones while watching Deborah conduct on-screen; one on which we record our first ‘take’. Mistakes are usually made on the second-last line, necessitating a second, or third, or even more ‘takes’. When we are satisfied that we have given it our best shot, we each send our recording to Eran and Deborah.
Step 8. Eran and Deborah take all the separate recordings and do some magic. Sometimes I suspect they throw it all into a washing machine and it somehow comes out as music in four-or five-part harmony, more-or-less synchronized to the accompaniment. Seriously, I know this step is a time-consuming one, often requiring several attempts before the blend and timing meet their standard. Not all choir members are comfortable with the technology, or have the time required for this process, so there are usually 5-7 people singing the hymns, and 10-12 singing the anthems.
Step 9. At choir practice, Deborah tells us which hymns are to be recorded for the following Sunday, and sends out a track with organ music for us to sing to, and we go through the recording process for our own parts, after practicing it enough to know our own part as a solo. Deborah and Eran go through the same mixing process with the hymns as they do with the anthems.
Step 10. On Sunday mornings, our virtual service includes one or two hymns sung by the choir, usually an anthem, and the blessing at the end of the service. We are fortunate to also have choir members who provide extra accompaniment or special music. That includes Pat McKee on guitar, Ron McKee on trumpet, Mike Ware on accordion, and Patti Wanless on drums.
We have all learned more than we ever thought we would about using technology. Who knew about Google Drive? Deborah and Eran work beautifully together to guide us through and are endlessly patient with our questions. Deborah does an amazing job conducting a phantom choir, because when she conducts, there is nobody in front of her, but she makes it easy for us to follow her.
We appreciate the opportunity to continue making music together and feeling part of our choir community. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labours, and that our music helps you worship and continue to feel connected to our church family.
Our Pre-Pandemic Chancel Choir
We have several choirs:
– Chancel Choir
– Children’s Choir
– Memorial Handbell Choir
– and weekly Preludes and Postludes
Our Music Director is Deborah Henry. Deborah has several degrees in Music, experience in leading church choirs in Oakville, and as a founder and leader of a community choir in Milton. As well, she teaches piano, and university courses in music. She is enthusiastic and energetic about sharing her passion for music with youth and adult choristers.
Eran Rozen is our pianist, and normally the Children’s choir director. His and other talented musicians’ playing and singing add great listening pleasure to our virtual worship services. (Linked to the Home Page and found in our Blog.)
We also have an active and wonderful Handbell Choir from our pre-pandemic times.