Santa Cruz Virtual Singers

Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo virtual singing project information page

Step by Step Virtual Choir Instructions

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I get started? Please review steps below for participating.
  • When do videos need to be submitted? My goal is to have videos submitted by Monday, July 20, 2020.
  • My ____ wants to sing but isn't from Santa Cruz. Can they participate? Sure! Send them to so they get on the email list.
  • Who is participating so far The email list has 11 basses, 11 tenors, 26 altos, 26 sopranos, and 4 people who didn't specify.
  • I have other questions? Ask me!

  1. If you are unfamiliar with virtual choir videos, click here to view our first project.
  2. Use the videos and audio files here to learn your part. This piece is not easy (some tricky timing, long notes, interesting intervals - Alto part is probably hardest), and it will take some effort to perform it well.
  3. Practice using the video recording of conductor conducting with a vocal track.
  4. Headphones are needed for this piece! Unless you use bone conducting headphones (that let you hear sound around you), you should put headphones on halfway (or in 1 ear) so you can hear yourself singing. Focus on tracking/aligning with the vocal on conductor's video. It will be difficult to blend recordings unless your voice aligns with others, and it's a tricky new skill to sing a part by yourself this way.
  5. Set up your video/audio recording "studio":
    • For most singers, it's easiest to record using 2 devices: 1 for playing the reference track (with conductor+optional audio), and 1 for recording the video/audio of your performance. If you have a more sophisticated setup, you can do this all on 1 device.
    • You must listen to the audio on the reference track with headphones (rather than through speakers). If it plays out loud, it will be on your recording, rendering it unusable. Due to the length and nature of the piece, listening to the reference track is important to ensure your pitch does not drift.
    • To record yourself you can use:
      • A video camera on a tripod.
      • A phone, tablet or iPad camera (if you can't mount it, you can ask someone to video you if possible).
      • Use a website like that lets you record and save video from your webcam. If you have built-in and external microphones, try both to see which gives better sound.
  6. Prepare to video (please read these steps carefully):
    • Make sure your face is well lit, preferably with a solid color (or pleasant, non-distracting) background.
    • Make sure the video frame includes at least your entire head and neck and at least an additional 8 inches of additional space (more is fine, but less can create editing challenges).
    • You don't need to be absolutely still, but avoid swaying too much because it can limit options with your video in the editing process.
    • You can wear concert dress or solid colors. Avoid distracting, busy patterns and avoid clothing with images or text.
    • Make sure room is quiet - turn off any fans, heaters, etc. Please don't add any effects like reverb (these will be added in the final mix).
    • Focus on entrances, tracking the conducting/reference singers, pitch and pronunciation.
    • Thinking about long vowels and placing consonants right before next syllable will help our voices align well.
    • Sing to the camera as much as possible (put the music next to camera or memorize the music). These folks didn't and it shows.
    • Be musical. Think about the dynamics and timing.
    • Be proud and sing out. Most of us are not used to singing solo, or into a camera. The tendency is to hold back and sing tightly and quietly. You may want to do some relaxing warm-ups.
    • Do your best, feel free to take a few practice runthroughs — but don't stress. You'll have lots of friendly voices alongside yours in the final project.
  7. Record your video:
    • Start your video recording.
    • Start the Conductor's conducting video.
    • Act like you are about to perform so that there are at least a few seconds of footage before you start singing (as you would in an in-person concert).
    • Sing your part along with the video.
    • After the piece ends wait for all voice parts to end (e.g. bass, stay focused while Altos complete their last note). Capture a few seconds where you are still focused after the piece is over.
    • Stop the video and note the video file name.
  8. Submit your video/audio file:
    • It's helpful if the video's filename includes your part and last name (e.g. Alto-Anderson).
    • Submit your video online at this Google Drive link (requires a gmail/google account). It can be drag/dropped there. If that doesn't work for you, submit it via a share from your personal Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox or other cloud drive, or share via your phone. Email is a last resort, but the video file will probably be too large.
    • Don't worry about format - I can accept almost anything (MOV, MP4, WMV, MTS, AVI, M4V and others are all fine).
    • Let me know if you get stuck and need help (perhaps tell me your phone # and good time to call).
  9. Email me when you submit the file, and tell me how you did I so I can confirm I got it.

  10. More info about virtual choirs    And yet more info