Virtual Choir Instructions

St. Louis Choir will make virtual recordings

Here’s the main idea: The conductor chooses the music and provides things that the choir needs to rehearse. The choir members rehearse at various times during the assignment period, and before the deadline each member makes a recording and submits it. The conductor combines the recordings to produce a virtual choir recording. We hope to make recordings that are good enough to be included in Christmas liturgies and the Christmas concert. This year.

Our conductor has chosen the Soundtrap tool to be used by members who wish to participate. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but Terry will help members get things working on their home computers.

To ask questions:

Send email to or phone him at 443-838-0522. Call him if you need help. He has said he prefers working with members one-on-one and can help with any problems you might have trying to use new tools.

Virtual Choir Information:

Things you will need:

  1. A computer with a microphone. (Not an Ipad and not a smartphone.)
  2. Wired earbuds or headphone. No airpods or bluetooth devices.
  3. Google Chrome browser. Do not use any other browser.
  4. The music score.
  5. Access to Soundtrap. Terry will send to you an invitation to join our “class” in Soundtrap. Contact him if you need help with that.

1. Find the materials:

Terrys resource folder

2. Practice your assignments:

To find your assignments, click the link below this paragraph. Note that the links in Terry’s list all include the word “assignment.” Each link takes you to the “studio,” where you will work on one song.

Terrys list of assignments

Here is a tutorial by Betsy Bates of the Children’s Chorus of Washington. She provides very simple instructions to help you get started using Soundtrap for your practice. (Note that Betsy is speaking to members of her organization and showing the tracks of one song that they are rehearsing. When you look at one of our songs, you will see a different number of tracks in that assignment. Every assignment will have different tracks.)

How to practice using Soundtrap

NOTE: If the assignment has a conductor video in the resource folder, there may not be any tracks in Soundtrap. That means that Terry wants you to practice while listening to the conductor video.

3. Record an assignment:

You have practiced and you are ready to record something. Great! Here are the instructions.

  1. Record in a quiet space without background noise. If the phone rings, the dog howls, the neighbor fires up his chain saw, or a family member enters the room while talking, you will have to start over.
  2. Wear wired headphones or earbuds to listen to the assignment while you record yourself singing. You need to hear the recording Terry provided, but you do not want any sound except your own voice on your own recording.
  3. Record yourself using Soundtrap.  (See Betsy’s tutorial, below.)
  4. Click on the “add new track” tab, left side of the screen.
    A popup window will appear.
  5. Press “Voice & microphones”
    Choose “Voice > Clean”
    Dismiss the popup window by clicking the “x”
    (Note that your choice of voice can be changed, even after you make your recording. So, if you do not like the way it sounds you can change it later. That microphone icon on the new track’s tab can be used to get the popup window back.)
  6. Mute tracks you do not want to hear. Do that by clicking on the headphones in the track tabs, left side of the screen.
  7. Click the “R” on the tab of your new track. Do not do that to any tracks Terry supplied.
  8. Now you can record your new track using the red record button, bottom of the screen.
  9. Listen to your recording. If you are unhappy with it, you can delete it by clicking on its tab on the left side of the screen. You can use the three-dot thing. Press it to see options, including the delete option. Do not do that to any tracks Terry supplied.
  10. Please rename the new track with your voice part and name. (Example: “Alto-Kathy-Spies”)

Here are two tutorials from Betsy. This one shows you how to record your track. Remember, these tutorials were made for the Children’s Chorus. Terry may eventually want slightly different settings for us. When he gives out new information, I will pass it along.

How to record your track using Soundtrap

More on using Soundtrap

4. How to record while watching a conductor video

For some assignments Terry makes conductor videos. The reason for doing that is so that he can convey tempo changes, dynamic changes, long pauses, and so you can see his hands and facial expressions. This should help us to make more choir-like videos. But how to contribute? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Watch Terry’s video and listen to its sound by double-clicking on it here:
    Terrys resource folder
    Got that? Are you wearing your headphones? Can you see him and hear the music? Do you know how to adjust the volume? Got the music? You can watch and listen as much as you like so as to learn your part.
  2. When you want to record, keep the conductor video in its browser tab, and select that same assignment from Terry’s list of assignments. Clicking the link below and selecting an assignment will bring up Soundtrap in a different tab on your browser. Make sure you are looking at the right assignment in Soundtrap. Get ready to record a new track, just as described in the “3. Record your assignment” section, above.
    Terrys list of assignments
  3. Click the red record button to start recording. It doesn’t matter that there will be some silent part at the beginning of your track.
  4. Click the browser tab so you can see Terry’s video again. Start that at the beginning. Do not pause the video, play it from beginning to end. If you make a big mistake, delete your track in Soundtrap, set up a new track for recording, and start over at the beginning of the conductor video.
  5. Be sure to do a loud clap when Terry claps on the video. We need that noise on your track so that it can be synced up with everyone else’s tracks and thereby join the choir. If you do not clap, your track will not be used. Do not pause the conductor video after you clap!
  6. Sing the song while watching Terry.  It helps a lot if you know the music well and can watch him most of the time. You might need to practice until you know the music pretty well.
  7. In Soundtrap, stop the recording and save your track.
  8. Listen to your track. If you don’t like it, try again. But remember, minor errors don’t matter. When all the tracks are combined, the sound will be very nice.

I think that’s right. If you have trouble, please email me. I will try to refine the instructions until they are correct and complete.

Why are we doing this? Because we will not be allowed to rehearse or perform in the usual way until sometime after the pandemic is under control. That means that if we want to contribute to the music in church for Christmas or to the Christmas concert, we’ll have to do it virtually. That’s what I think. I’ll be happy to convey Terry’s thoughts if he shares them.

Why do we insist you use a computer and not an Ipad and not a smartphone? Because the app from Soundtrap for Ipad and smartphones does not work well with the Soundtrap “studio” that we are using. The Safari browser on Ipad and smartphone also causes Soundtrap to malfunction. You do not need grief in your life trying to use Soundtrap on these devices. You’d spend all your time trying to cope with software problems. Use a computer that is running the Chrome browser and all will be well.

The computer you use must have a microphone.

If you do not have the things you need to participate in this effort, please let Terry know. He needs to know how things are going. Please do not think you are the only choir member having problems with this project. You are not. Keep trying.

Why is the procedure for recording while watching the conductor a two-tab, multi-step procedure? Because Soundtrap does not record or display video. You have to record your voice using Soundtrap while watching and listening to the conductor video. If you do not watch him, your recording might be unusable.

Great work from The Children’s Chorus of Washington:

And yes, they were recording the audio using Soundtrap. (They recorded the video using a different tool.)