Choir in These Times

Choir in These Times

In this edition of Music Notes, I want to call out and honor the choir for their hard work and perseverance during this quarantine period. As you probably have heard, singing is one of the superspreader activities, and singing will probably be the last thing to come back on board when we think about returning (someday...). The choir and I have been dealing with that sadness for almost a year now. Maybe you have too. Do you miss singing together as a congregation? Or if you're not a singer yourself, do you miss hearing live singing in a common space?

Singing is very difficult to do together online. Zoom's latency makes it impossible to sing together, with almost a 2-second spread between connections. About 10 choir members join for a short time every Thursday on a software called Jamulus, where we can sort of sing together with almost no (~50 ms) latency. But it's clunky and technically challenging and just isn't the same....

But the choir carries on, meeting every Thursday to connect with each other, work on sight-reading, and practice (without hearing each other) our next recording project. They record on their own, with a guide track in their headphones, and send in their file weeks before they hear the completed project in a service. It's a disjointed and individualistic musical pursuit, much less satisfying than the connected and communal choral singing we all love and long to do again. But it's better than nothing. And we are collecting a catalog of videos that we will be able to enjoy forever.

Next time you see a choir member, give them some appreciation for all they are doing to keep music at OCUUC limping along until we are able to sing together in person.

I also wanted to make sure you knew that there's a new Playlist on our YouTube channel ( with all the outside videos we use in services, such as the ones by Lea Morris, Vienna Teng, and Meg Barnhouse.

Keep on singing, everyone!

Musically yours,

Beth Syverson

Beth Syverson is Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church's Director of Music Ministries. She plans and arranges the music for worship on Sunday mornings, provides piano music during services, and directs the Orange Coast Choir. She is also the artistic director of OCUUC’s concert series—Orange Coast Concerts—which features several eclectic concerts throughout the year.