Behind the Scenes: Coronavirus Rhapsody

We have been blown away by the response of our Coronavirus Rhapsody Parody video, which we released on March 31. One of the many common questions we’ve received in the outpouring of responses is “how did you make the video?” We give kudos to Phoenix Singers and board members extraordinaire, Vaughn Chauvin and Carolyn Shiau (both featured in the video as well) for their careful work editing and compiling the video.

We created this nifty Q & A guide to give you a behind-the-scenes glance at our process and perhaps give you some pointers for yours!

How did you make this video?

Our video was created using a program called Camtasia to stitch together individual recordings made by each singer. Each singer used whatever program they had access to (just a simple video recording through a webcam or phone camera will work). Each singer learned their part on their own and then recorded themselves while listening to something called a click-track, which is a basic midi version of the score so you can hear the other parts and stay in time.  Camtasia allowed us to put all the videos together, line up the audio, and add the titles for the lyrics. There was a huge amount of editing at this point to make all the videos line up properly – cutting eighths of a second off here and there, etc. We then exported the audio as separate tracks and used another program called Reaper to edit and mix the sound (to add a little reverb and take out any distortion as all the videos had different levels of audio quality). Once the sound was edited, it was added back into Camtasia and synced up with the video again. It was a bit of a process! 


Can you make a video like this using Zoom or another video-conferencing software?

The simple answer is no. Unfortunately we’ve found that multi-channel video-conferencing software (such as Zoom) does not work well for any sort of synchronous music making as there is too much lag (it may be imperceptible when speaking, but as soon as you try to make music that split second stands out!) and the system prioritizes sound from one source at a time (the “speaker” function) so when everyone makes sound at once you get a lot of distortion. 


What about rehearsing together?

If you want to hold a rehearsal using video-conferencing software, it seems to work best if everyone except the director is muted so they can hear you giving instructions or leading from your instrument, but they can’t hear each other and you can’t hear them. It’s not very satisfying for the director, and feels a lot more like supported solo-practice rather than any sort of collaboration, unfortunately, but does allow you to continue working on your repertoire if your singers require support to learn their music. 


How did you come up with the lyrics?

These parody lyrics were originally written by comedian Dana Jay Bein. We found them on social media and changed a few words with permission to personalize them to our choir (and to make them a little more PG – we are a family organization after all!). We thank Dana for his creative genius here! 


Where did you get the music?

One of our singers, Carolyn Shiau, is an accomplished pianist and does wonderful choral arrangements in a variety of genres (we’ve sung some of her pieces in concert!). She did this arrangement years ago and adapted it to fit these lyrics.


Who are the singers?

The singers are (from left to right):

Benjamin Scoten – High School Shop Teacher. Ben has been a member of Phoenix for 2 years. 

Dr. Carolyn Shiau, MD – Pathologist at Royal Columbian Hospital, and Clinical Assistant Professor, UBC Faculty of Medicine. Caroyln has been a member of Phoenix for 5 years. She is also currently the secretary of the Board. 

Emily Zuidema – Elementary Music Teacher, Mulgrave School, and Administrator, Phoenix Chamber Choir. Emily has been a member of Phoenix for 3 years and the Administrator for 2 years. 

Vaughn Chauvin – Clinical Pharmacist, Indigo Pharmacy, and Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Vaughn has been a member of Phoenix for 5 years. He is also currently the Vice-President of the Board. 

Shannon Thue – French Immersion Kindergarten Teacher, North Vancouver. Shannon has been a member of Phoenix for 7 years. 

Olivia Selig –  Education Coordinator, TLABC. Olivia is brand new to Phoenix and just joined us in Jan 2020! Our April concert would have been her first full concert with Phoenix. 

Tom Metzger – CEO, Groupanizer. Tom sang with Phoenix in 2001 and 2018, and is currently a Member-at-Large on the Board. 

The full Phoenix Chamber Choir has 30 singers, so this was just a small subset of the group.


Will you be making another video like this?

Yes! Stay tuned for our next video, coming this week! (Yes, you read that correctly!)


I want to join your choir, do you have auditions?

Yes! We will be holding virtual auditions in June. Stay tuned for more information in early May. 


How can I support Phoenix Chamber Choir? 

It’s hard to express the value of a gift toward a small, nonprofit arts organization like ours right now. We do invite you to invest in our work financially here. Thank you for your support!