Get plugged in! Music tech for choirs

Music tech. Love it or hate it, you probably can’t manage entirely without it. Here are our top tips for getting your choir plugged in.

When I began my choir, I started out with a regular stereo which played both Cds and my iPod and was, at the time, pretty cutting edge. I was very pleased with it.  “I’m all set”, I thought.  By about week three, when I was lucky enough to be seeing thirty plus singers at rehearsals, it started to get a bit lost amongst the energetic, enthusiastic voices of the choir.

I should mention at this point that the choir to which I'm referring is the Total Voice Contemporary Choir.  The idea behind this choir has always been to sing rock and pop and to be open to everyone, no matter what their experience.  I teach by ear using backing tracks so I don’t have a pianist involved.

To boost the sound quality of the music I was using, and on the recommendation of a friend, I invested in an Alesis Trans Active Mobile amp which has an iPod dock.  Immediately, this enabled me to get the volume I needed. It was easy to operate with the iPod and was very portable (at this time I was running the business alone and had to lug all the rehearsal kit on my own).  However, when we performed outdoors I found that it didn’t quite give enough power on its own, so I often ended up borrowing additional equipment from a friend.

Further down the road when I joined forces with Victoria, we were lucky enough to have the help of her husband Richard who is a bit of a geek and has always been interested in the technical side of music.  We purchased a sound desk, microphones and a great pair of speakers for the choir and Richard now runs this during weekly rehearsals and at our performance events.

I can’t tell you how much easier our current tech system has made my life. With a choir of over sixty, not having to worry about running the tracks or getting the balance right whilst concentrating on conducting is bliss.  We also now have all our rehearsal tracks available at rehearsals so if I have a mental block about how one of the parts goes, Richard can quickly locate the track to demonstrate, making the whole process slicker. We have also taken the tech side of the business one step further offering workshops for our members on microphone skills and basic sound system training.

In the new year, we will be featuring a series of articles on all aspects of choir-related tech. We'd love to answer your questions, so do send them in, either in the comments below, by email or on Facebook or Twitter.

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