An Interview with the Magic for Virtual Choir

Sarah Patunas, Entertainment Writer

What used to be a time of build-up and excitement for many choir folks, both across the country and world, has now come to a standstill within these past few months. In a time of masks and social distancing, how is one supposed to put together a choir concert? How are children and even adults capable of having the same fulfillment they would while singing online instead of together? During this unprecedented time, Zoom and webcams became the friends of many, and the invention of the Virtual Choir Concert unfolds into something more.

On your side of the screen, the art of a Virtual Choir Concert may look elegant and may deceive you, watching effortless transitions and people smiling while “singing together”. For some involved in these grand productions, it can be a little harder than it looks. At the end of the school year, Ramsey put together 3 virtual choirs featuring the Ram Jams, Ramsey Singer, and the Ramsey High School Chorus. Involved in all three behind the scenes was Warren Trent, now a senior here at Ramsey, who has been involved in mixing and editing for all three choirs during, and especially before, the virtual choirs. I asked him a few questions about what it is like putting together a feat like this, his experience in editing, and how much time and effort was put into all these productions. 

S: How long have you been mixing/editing for the Ramsey choirs?

W: I’ve been the AV engineer for the choir since my freshman year.

S: What made you want to pursue a hobby in AV engineering?
W: In first grade, a local AV company came in and did a light show for my class. I knew I had an interest in how things worked, but that was the starting point for my fascination. Fast forward to my eighth-grade summer, and I felt I was ready to expand my knowledge. I ended up asking for an internship with the same company I met in first grade and they took me on. From there, they helped grow my passion for AV and advance as a technician.

S: How long does it take you to record and produce a video the size of these? 

W: For the general choir, “recording” took about 3 days. Editing, Mixing, and mastering took about 3-4 weeks. For Ram Jams, it was also 3 days to record, but editing took 2-3 weeks for a complete turnaround.

On Warrens’s side of the aisle, you can see just how much time and effort can go into one video. On the other side, choir students like myself had to put in just as much time and effort to help create these videos. Those in Ram Jams, Ramsey Singers, and the Ramsey Choir all had practice tracks to listen to on one device, while they used another to film themselves singing along with the tracks in their ears. The purpose of the tracks were so that editing could be easier, and each student clapped at the beginning to indicate when they started, helping to align all the singers together without much trouble. All throughout March leading up to the filming dates, choir kids also had the responsibility to rehearse and learn music on their own, developing a sense for time management and responsibility for all involved.

Now, the next time you take the time to watch a Virtual Choir on Youtube, think about just how much effort goes into them. Without the resources to make these videos, music may as well be gone for good, or as long as the pandemic is around, and many would have been lost or out of a job as a result. Though it is one small impact on some of our lives, the impact it makes on many others around the world is what makes it count.