Things to do at home when the choir isn't rehearsing


Hello everybody,
I hope you're all getting used to dealing with some of the limitations of life in Australia now.
You may be spending more time at home, or working from home.
The challenge for us as a choir, is how we might Internet technology that exists now,
to help us "stick together"
For many years now, I've been making backing tracks and personalised practice recordings for my students and making them available online. I've also given singing lessons to my professional singing students who are touring in shows especially in Asia. It's been surprisingly successful.
These are some of the thoughts about things we could do to make the most of this ‘down time’ for the choir.


Because of the difficulty with “latency” or “lagging” - meaning that when people try to sing together online it gets out of time very quickly because the signals of each singer take a while to arrive at everybody else’s computer. But we can have a go at doing some section rehearsals online.

This is how it would work. We all get online using Zoom or Skype. You all mute your microphones, and what I do is play the first line, of say, the alto part of something, straight after I then count 1234, you all try to sing the part on your own at home while I play the part here. You can’t hear the other people singing, because they would be out of time, from your perspective, but you'll hear that piano part being played by me arriving to help you get it right.
The problem with lagging doesn’t occur because you’re all singing in time to the piano part as you’re hearing it. Its important you can’t hear anybody else. Certainly, when you have all learnt your part, you could also make recording of you singing the part to a piano practice recording to keep you in time, using your memo recorder on your iPhone, whatever) and I’ll put it all together and see if we have got it. (See Internet choir below)


By the way, some of you will have seen the ‘Internet choirs’ at work where they appear to be all singing together live. Because of the latency problem it is not possible to do what you saw live.
It might look alive but what has happened is this: each one of them has recorded their singing to a uniform backing track and then sent it to the people running the choir and with a bit of editing it all gets put together. I did this one year for a group of my singing students at Christmas and it was lots of fun. The technology is even better now if you’re interested in doing something like that, just let me know.


I know that sometimes, during rehearsals, you may feel a bit confused about some things in the sheet music that you don't understand. and we don't really have the time to stop and explain it all. Not really satisfactory!

I'm offering one-on-one sessions by phone (or group sessions using Skype, Zoom whatever)
where I'll coach you in sheet music reading and music theory, all those niggly things that we have never had time to explain clearly in rehearsals for you. I'll forward you some personalised practice sheets, that I use with my own students – note values, scales, key signatures all those weird things you hear me talking about.

LEARNING TO PLAY THE PIANO A BIT: When singers are learning a song, it can be mighty useful to be able to go to a piano and using the sheet music read off their part slowly, even if it’s just one finger. The slower the better actually. So you could use the choir down time to learn how to play a bit of basic piano. It would be a matter of using a real piano at home, or a little electronic keyboard that the kids might’ve left behind.

There is a beginner piano book available for download on the Carnegie Choir Dropbox.
(See music reading help and other miscellaneous things) You will also learn a bit of music theory along the way. Call me with any problems, and I can coach you through the book.
By the way, we could do these sessions in groups, as the latency problem wouldn't be an issue.


I will listen to you singing along at home to choir rehearsal backing tracks, and I'll hear where you have problems and work with you on the spot fix them and make a practice recordings especially to order for you. (or the famous "sock darning" recordings, meaning, a recording of just the part of the song leading into a difficult bit where you have trouble.) It saves a lot of time!


Perhaps this is also a time to learn to sing one of your favourite songs, not as part of the choir, but just for you to sing for yourself at home and have a good time! I have a huge collection of sheet music and backing tracks that will help you. Over the phone, I'll check what key is right for you, email you a PDF of the score, and when you have listened to your personalised backing track for a while, we can talk on the phone again and clean it up if need be.
(I was talking to a choir member recently who mentioned that a while ago, she had requested one of her favourite songs for the choir to sing. We did sing it, but unfortunately, her particular part, didn't ever get to sing any of the main melody!
Now’s the time for you do it! I’ll rearrange the choir song as a solo, but just for you, in a key that suits you! I can continue having phone sessions with you and coaching you privately.

Of course it doesn't have to be a choir song. Any song that you have always wanted to sing for yourself is appropriate. I'll help you with your selection

Feel free to ring or email if you think any of these activities might be fun. Singing, either on your own, or with others during such a difficult time as this, can be wonderfully healing and help you maintain your morale. Just singing a solo at home will do it! No one else ever needs to hear it, (even me!) so you can relax if you are feeling a bit scared of this.

I wish you musical joy through singing in these trying times.
Feel free to call me or email me with any questions of any kind.
I forgot to mention, I'm not planning to charge people for personal one-on-one sessions.
Think of it as my contribution to keeping the choir going, and as a thank you
for the wonderful way you all supported me over the last year or so.

lots of love, Geoffrey