By Margo Nightingale
Since September 2020, we have been allowed to sing together in well managed, masked and socially distant rehearsals. We have capped the number of singers who can meet in person, increased the size of our rehearsal space, reduced the length of time we are together and while we can hum anytime through our 90 min session, we can only sing with text in the final 30 mins.
Aware some singers would be unable or uncomfortable to attend in person, we set up a Zoom connection for folks to join at home. We recorded each rehearsal through Zoom and posted the video on YouTube so singers could access a missed rehearsal anytime.
Initially we used a set up like Laurier’s. Everything fed into a mixer with an internal audiobus, the mixer fed into my laptop and my laptop fed into Zoom. To amplify me, I had a wireless SURE head mic.
Each week was a new adventure in technical success. And failure. We were incredibly lucky to have sound support from people who knew the tech to get us set up and started. But too many times some part of the tech would stop working. Levels were hard to manage and singers at home often couldn’t hear me, or the singers in the room, or the piano, or on really great days, they couldn’t hear much of anything. Zoom singers were incredibly stoic, but over time folks were losing confidence. This was not sustainable.
We began to experiment with what we needed and what we could stop using. What we have now has been fantastic. And so simple. Our on-site singers (+/- 40) and zoom singers (+/- 15) get what they need.
The H5 recorder is about 5 years old. It still has incredible sound and is more than adequate to capture me, the singers and our piano.
We recently added a speaker/amp to amplify the digital piano. Not strictly necessary, but singers farthest from the keyboard found it harder to hear. This has been manageable, but still needs some attention to levels and having good cables to ensure the keys do not sound muddy or crackle.
Margo (she/her) lives on the traditional territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. She has conducted the Yellowknife Choral Society’s adult community choir, Aurora Chorealis, since 2001. During covid, she has tackled the technology needed to continue to sing when no rehearsals were permitted and to devise a series of risk mitigation measures to allow for in-person hybrid rehearsals since September 2020.
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