Have you been wondering how to put together a virtual choir performance? In this blog post, I’ll detail how I put together a virtual choir performance for my elementary choir. Keep reading to watch a couple videos of virtual performances!
First, a word of warning: as Katie Wardrobe writes in this blog post, it was a LOT of work. I only recommend that you try this if you’re fairly comfortable with video editing and you have time to devote to the project.
Why create a virtual choir performance?
Since we can’t sing together in person, a virtual choir can be a great way to have students actively making music. It’s also a feel-good type of video that can be sent out through email, social media, etc., which can build community.
How do I create a virtual choir performance?
When I first started working on the virtual choir video, I was experimenting and learning as I went. At the same time I was working on the virtual choir, I was also working on a virtual band with the elementary music teachers in my district. I made several mistakes and probably wasted more time than I should have, until I finally landed on this process:
- First, I chose a song, and made sure I had a recording students could sing along with.
- Then, I made a plan for who would be in what part of the video. This can be done in Google Docs, Word, etc. For example, for my video, I had a soloist, then a small group, then a small group with a descant, then a larger group in a round, then a soloist with a different verse, then a small group, then a larger group in a round.
- Then, I made a Flipgrid and had students record themselves singing along with the recording (I recommended that they sing with earbuds, so they could hear the recording, but we could only hear their voice.) I'd suggest either horizontal or vertical, so all videos are recorded in the same format. You might also ask them to give some kind of cue when they begin singing, so it makes editing easier.
- Then, I uploaded the recording and directions, with a link to the Flipgrid, to Schoology (if you don’t use Schoology, you could use another platform, such as Google Classroom, Canvas, etc.)
- Then, I downloaded the videos and pulled them into Audacity (a free editing tool). This imported the audio, not the video. I lined up the voices and edited as I needed to. Note: I think Flipgrid may have compressed some of the videos, which could have caused tempo changes and some pitch differences, so I fixed it in Audacity. For this reason, you might consider having them send you videos instead of using Flipgrid (although Flipgrid makes it really easy for them to contribute!) You could have them upload to a Google folder instead.
- Then I imported each individual student video into iMovie (you could use another program, if you don’t have a Mac.) I detached the original audio, added the new audio from Audacity, and made sure that it lined up with the video. Then, I exported each original video.
- Then I referenced my plan so I knew who should go where. I imported individual videos into Canva, which is a free website.I used the photo grids and inserted videos into each frame. (You can find the photo grids by clicking on “elements,” then “grids.”)
- Then I exported the videos from Canva, put them back into iMovie, and finalized.
The song I used is called “Deep and Dark,” by Richard Gillard/ Steve Runciman, and was used with permission. I learned the song from the book “Victoria Sings Short Stuff: Small Songs for Community Singing,” edited by Fay White. The book is an excellent resource with lots of songs I had never seen before; I found it when I was in Australia this past fall. It comes with CD’s, and can be purchased here (note: keep in mind the price shown is in Australian dollars!)
Here is the final video of my elementary choir.
And here is the video of an elementary band I assisted in compiling. We used a similar process, except that the audio was edited in GarageBand (by Timothy Minneci, my co-worker Katie's husband.)
Have you created a virtual choir? Feel free to leave links below, and also let me know if you have any more questions. Happy editing!
Wow, Aileen! This is beautiful. I’ve wanted to do this since we started distance learning. You have given me the motivation to follow through with it. What a special treasure for your choir students! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you, Sheri!! I appreciate your kind words. Good luck with yours!
I’m a bit confused on the Canva part of the process. Where do I find the “elements”? Other than that, this sounds like such a great way to make a virtual choir or ensemble! Can’t wait to try it.
Sorry, I should have added these directions first: Click “new design” in Canva, then click “video,” then find elements on the left hand side. Good luck!
So powerful!! “In our hearts, hope we keep.” You are giving these precious young people a life gift, and us too.
I’m using Audacity for the audio portion and cannot figure out how to extract the audio from the video. Any helpful suggestions? – There are so many online, my head is swimming. Thank you,
Hi Sheri! I believe if you import a video into Audacity, it’ll bring the video and the audio in separately, and then you delete the video track. Let me know if that’s not the case, though, and I’ll help you troubleshoot. Good luck!
Hi Aileen. After two days of reading and watching YouTube videos, you solved my problem in one sentence! You are wonderful! I have another question; however, I do not want to overextend my welcome. If it’s okay, will you send your response to my email, please: firstname.lastname@example.org
My question is – how do you align the voices so they enter at the same time and are together? I’ve tried deleting some of the track as well as using the time shift tool; and neither are making the entrances precise (and I’m only on the first two vocal tracks!)?
Thank you very much. And if I’m overstepping my boundaries by asking, I’ll understand.
Hi there! Not overstepping at all. 🙂 I should have said in the blog post that I choose one track to be the anchor track, and edit everything else to that track. So for my virtual choir, my anchor track was the girl at the start who sang the solo. Once I had her track, I edited all other tracks so they lined up to hers.
If it’s not lining up, I bump it over so that it starts at the same time, and if one track is slower than another or they take a longer breath than the other person, I try to take out a snippet here or there so that it lines up. It works best to just try two at a time, then add from there. I hope that helps!
Hi! How many total hours did you spend working on this? Between sending out a recording for them to sing along to and then editing? Thank! Thomas
That’s a good question! I’d say at least ten, if not more. 🙂
Thank you so much for this!!! This is the first resource I have found that has broken down creating a virtual choir into manageable steps that I can actually do! 🙂 I was able to do a test choir with a few videos of myself, so I think I might just give this a go with my kids!
can I ask did you try having the kids record audio and video in Schoology itself? I have uploaded the links to my tracks and was wondering if it’s easier and could eliminate extra editing steps to just have them record in Schoology. I’m using BandLab to mix audio and have found your Canva post interesting for the grid making, but I’m still a little lost on the video mixing/editing process . I’m not using a Mac so not iMovie. Maybe WeVideo? I’ll have to learn that too… ugh. so.many.steps!
Hi Tami! I didn’t have them do that, but I could have. There have been issues in the past with kids recording themselves on Schoology, at least in my district, but that would be a good way to take out a step!
I have considered using WeVideo too, but it’s paid. If you have access through your district, though, it would be great. It seems really slick!
This is really wonderful! Thank you for this valuable information as I too am navigating a virtual choir performance for my online classes.