Music in the Zoom era

Zooming our worship services has definitely been a challenge, but there are some really positive things that have benefited the Music Ministries because of the need to Zoom.

Several of us have learned (or refined our use of) audio and video editing software. The only way to create ensemble music right now is to compile individual videos together, because Internet latency is too long and too inconsistent to be able to sing or play together live, even (or actually, especially) on Zoom. So we are each singing or playing in our own houses and then sending solo recordings in to the editor, who then syncs them up and blends the sounds together. Steve Morihiro, Andres Trivino, Susan Shaw, and I are sharing the editing duties currently. It is time consuming, but for people who like solitary detail work, it's quite creative and fun.

Because we have to submit solo videos, our singers and musicians are refining their skills. The act of listening back to oneself makes one very aware of little foibles and inconsistencies in tone, pitch, and timing. So we're all cleaning up our act as a natural result of listening back to ourselves so frequently. I have noticed lots of growth in all the choir singers, after only (only?) 3 months operating this way.

Several of you have requested that we create a place where you can listen to our music videos and special video compilations (like the Flower Communion) again. Now we have an OCUUC Music Videos playlist on the church's YouTube channel! It's a nice repository of all the musicians' efforts. Because we have to use mostly recorded music for worship, a YouTube library of our Sunday morning video offerings is a nice bonus. Make sure to Subscribe to the church's YouTube channel to get notified of new videos that have been uploaded.

Everyone has had to become more creative and adventurous. Several people have written new songs, with more on the way. Small groups have gathered together to collaborate on songs. Many of you have contributed photos and videos for song montages. And many of you in the congregation have submitted your own recordings for projects like Flower Communion and the Singing Bowl video at the beginning of every service. And we now have a file full of Artists UUnite pieces to use in our slideshows and videos.Even your Minister recorded herself singing --yes, singing! --for Rica's sendoff, "So Long, Farewell!"

The choir is trying out Open Source software that provides a way to hear each other singing or playing together, and it syncs the sounds up in real time (or 40 mili-seconds late, which is almost real time). Steve Morihiro has spent a great deal of time, helping each choir member get on board individually. It's still a work in progress, but we are hopeful we will be able to sing together --and hear each other singing together --again soon. A quartet was able to sing a song together last week, and surprisingly, we were joined by a bass player from who-knows-where, who jumped into our decidedly not-private rehearsal "room." He was great, improvising along with us, creating a collaboration on the spot.

If you'd like to join in the fun, the choir is continuing to rehearse on Thursday nights through the summer (except we're off on July 23). It's a wonderful social network along with a laboratory for tightening up our music skills. Or if you'd like to do any solo work anytime, just let me know.

Musically Yours,
Beth Syverson

Director of Music Ministries
musicdirector@ocuuc.org