When composer/conductor Eric Whitacre launched Virtual Choir 4.0 a few weeks ago, I'm sure I wasn't the only music teacher in the world to say, "Oh no! This couldn't have come at a worse time!" Music festivals, recitals, exams, putting together the registration package for next year, etc. etc. - there is a LOT on our plates right now (our counterparts in the school system would undoubtedly agree). In fact, I was rather grumpy about not having time to practice Bliss. Thankfully, Team Eric have prepared a lot of support materials. I have been listening to the practice tracks on a regular basis - it keeps me calm while I deal with the icky administrative tasks of running your own business. I am quite relieved that the Bliss is easier than Water Night (although, I do love Water Night to bits).
When six of my piano students stepped forward to say, "I'd like to sing in Virtual Choir" this year, the opportunist within me got excited. For my students, this is a great learning opportunity: in terms of music technology, ear training, expression, speed learning, etc. etc. For me, their lessons ARE my practice time.
As soon as they said "yes", I sent their families the Underage Consent Form (if applicable) and encouraged them to join the Virtual Choir Community. Together, with their parents, they could read up on how to practice, download the practice tracks and ask questions. One of my students has been spending quite a bit of time on the forums so I've been directing my other students to ask HIM questions.
Last week, I coached my students on the trouble spots. It really helps that they are singing parts that are in my vocal range. This week, we're working on pitch, breathing and pronunciation. After working through it at a lesson today, I feel hopeful that I can record at least one track ahead of my students.
This Friday, we are going to have a studio Virtual Choir rehearsal. Staggered breathing will make much more sense to them when we work as a group. As well, they will have an opportunity to watch the conductor videos together and ask questions.
I can also share with them this little demo that fellow Virtual Choir members put together by randomly selecting 44 members of VC4 who have already submitted their videos:
Afterwards, they will take turns recording in my special Virtual Choir recording booth:
Since our time-frame is extremely short (we must submit our tracks before June 10), we have to go with the best of three takes, a far cry from my Virtual Choir recording experience last year. Everyone is bringing non-dairy food to share as we'll be cutting into dinnertime. Their parents get to hang out with us if they'd like (or just curl up on my waiting room couch with a book).
Perhaps in July, when Virtual Choir 4.0 is unveiled at the Coronation Festival’s Gala performances for Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth, we can have a VC4 party.