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(September 2020) In the recent survey of Dayspring members, there were many positive comments about the music program. We are grateful! Many people expressed disappointment that there isn’t more music in the weekly streaming services and that most of the material is archival. We share your disappointment!
Our main concern is to keep everyone safe. As I’m sure you know, singing was identified very early in the pandemic as especially dangerous. Further research (some of it from a research group I’m part of at Arizona State University) has demonstrated that singing produces aerosols that can remain airborne for as long as 41 hours. Especially with loud, high singing, aerosols travel 10 feet or more, even with a mask. As much as it pains me to say it, I believe that singing together will be one of the last activities that we are able to restore as the pandemic subsides.
We are, however, embarking on a very limited program of recording some new performances. These will be done with no more than five people in the Sanctuary at a time; people will wear masks as much as possible; and everyone will be at considerable distances from one another. This is all in keeping with guidelines from the Desert Southwest Conference. We will be making these recordings with our paid music staff members.
I have enjoyed seeing and hearing the archive performances that we’ve been using for the last several weeks. It shows us a great deal about what we do well and what we can do better. Among other things, we are working on improving the microphone setup so that when we do return to live singing, the audio quality on the streams and recordings will be much closer to what we hear in the sanctuary.
As I said last month, it’s important to think about what we will keep and what we won’t from the pandemic experience. We will certainly keep the insights that we’ve gained into music at Dayspring and work to make it even better. But most of all, we’ll be glad to set aside having to stay away from one another! We look forward to a time when we can all be together again, raising our voices in celebration!
MUSIC IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
(June 2020) Among the many impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic and the measures to contain it has been the nearly complete shutdown of the performing arts. Musicians, actors, dancers, and all manner of other performers are facing the challenge of remaining active in their craft while being alone–in fields that always demand collaboration and partnership. No matter what level of performer–recreational to world-class professional–all are experiencing the same sense of loss, withdrawal, and isolation.
Music has some special challenges. Through some truly miraculous technology, we can at least see one another and speak to one another remotely. But what we cannot do is make music together in real time. Why? It’s just not possible to stay together! There is a noticeable lag in the sound as it travels from one computer to another (the technical term is “latency”). Depending on how far the signal has to travel–maybe up to a satellite and back down–there is just enough time involved that even people in different rooms of the same house can’t sing together (Sue and I have tried)
One solution has been the so-called virtual choir: each singer records their own part and uploads the video. Then someone has to take all those videos and combine them. For a three-minute piece, typical editing time is 40 – 80 hours, and special equipment and software are required to handle more than a few videos at a time, because of the amount of computer memory involved. It’s not only technically difficult, it’s actually really frustrating. It’s no fun at all to sing your part alone. It’s a lot harder to do; you don’t hear how your voice blends and fits in with the others’; you can’t adjust to one another’s singing; and at least for me, you have to listen to your own singing all alone. It can be downright depressing! So none of those videos you see with several musicians performing “together” represents performing in real time: they’re all recorded separately and brought together later. (By the way, we’re working on some of these with Robert, Norman, and our solo quartet. You’ll be seeing those in upcoming streaming services.
Still, we are trying to keep the choirs at Dayspring together! And we’d like to share what we are doing. Ever since the stay-at-home period began in March, the choirs have continued to meet each Wednesday evening. We have shared our experiences of quarantine, laughed together, and–most satisfying of all–listened to music together
If you too are missing the great music at Dayspring, we invite you to join us! You do not need to be a member of the choir. And in fact, if you have been thinking about joining one of the choirs, this would be a great way to get to know some of the choir members. We meet via Zoom each Wednesday from 7 – 8 p.m.
At these informal gatherings, I play recordings of favorite church music from a variety of traditions. For the Zoom address, email me (David). Feel free to request music you’d like to hear! Anyone is welcome, whether or not you sing in the choir
Meanwhile, I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. We eagerly look forward to a time when we can all sing together “lustily and with good courage,” as John Wesley exhorted us to do!
At Dayspring, we offer many ways to find, experience and express joy. From the tiniest Cherub Choir member, to the Celebration Singers, Dayspring Chorale, Bell Choirs and everyone in between, we understand, experience and express the joy in our souls. And there is a place for everyone in our Music Ministry. There are so many opportunities for you to experience that joy. Of course, listening is always good, but participating is even better! Regardless of your age or musical background, there is a place for you in the Music Ministry.
Cherub Choir: This choir is for ages two through Kindergarten. We meet Wednesdays from 6:00-6:30pm This choir is taught by Kate Jelen and Amanda Osman-Balzell.
The Dayspring Children’s Choir: This choir is for children in 1st through 6th grade. We meet Wednesdays from 6:00-6:45 p.m. This choir is taught by JulieAnne Weissberg.
The Dayspring Youth Choir: This choir is for 7th-12th graders. We meet Wednesdays from 6:45-7:30. This choir is taught by JulieAnne Weissberg.
The Celebration Singers: This energetic, multi-generational choir performs more contemporary, gospel inspired music during the 9:00 service.
The Dayspring Chorale: This adult choir is recognized as one of the premier choral organizations in the valley and performs during the 10:30 service.
Music is a vital part of Worship at Dayspring. Music can inspire and uplift. It can soothe and comfort. It can touch us in a way that nothing else can. Music is a gift from God that enables both participants and listeners to focus and be open to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Music provides an unique outreach extending far beyond our Sanctuary doors. Music is an exceptionally fulfilling way to serve the Lord, our church and each other.
We provide a wide variety of musical options for all ages. After examining the following music ministries, please give careful consideration to where you might be of best service. We are always happy to welcome those desiring to unite with our musical family.
(3 – 6 years)
Imprinted on the Choir Room wall is this phrase, “Music expresses the joy of the soul.” Needless to say, this has practically become a mantra for me. The church, of course, concerns itself with the relative “health” of our souls, and I believe that without joy, our work as music “ministers” is without real validity.
Victor Hugo wrote, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Indeed, even without words or lyrics we have all had some emotional reaction to music. Additionally, in the church, we are often linking our music to the message, God’s Word for us, which can increase the emotional reaction two-fold or more. For some it is stronger than others, but I still believe that the power is universal.
Several people shared with me a segment of the television show 60 Minutes which aired twice over the past season. The story was about the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra in the Congo. Begun by an unemployed man who neither played an instrument nor read music, the Kinshasa Symphony is truly a miracle. Learning first the piano, then the violin and other instruments, he created a vehicle where others like him could learn to play an instrument, enabling them to create something truly beautiful, enriching their lives and the lives of all who heard them. Ultimately expanding to include a Symphonic Chorus, they now perform works like “Carmina Burana” and Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”
But the real miracle was not in the music that was created out of relative nothingness, but the joy it has brought the participants. One after another, the musicians shared their experiences, completely astonishing us with the hardships they endure to participate. One young woman must bring her three small children with her to all lessons and rehearsals. A pair of brothers walk a total of three hours through the worst possible conditions every day to make rehearsals. But it was not the sacrifices that made the greatest impression, but rather the joy visible on their faces as they talked about the orchestra and what it has meant to them. One young man could quote the date he began in the orchestra, even though it had been years. He shared that the start date for the orchestra was for him, like the day of his birth; the day his life truly began.
We live in a society where we are surrounded by music. From the grocery store to the gas station, popular tunes continually assault our senses, to the point that music in our lives becomes nothing more than background. But watching the 60 Minutes piece reminds us that the power of music is far greater than mere background. And at Dayspring, we offer many ways to find, experience and express the joy. From the tiniest Cherub Choir member, to the Celebration Singers, Dayspring Chorale, Bell Choirs and everyone in between, we understand, experience and express the joy in our souls. And there is a place for everyone in our Music Ministry.
There are so many opportunities for you to experience that joy. Of course, listening is always good, but please trust me, participating is even better! Regardless of your age or musical background, there is a place for you in the Music Ministry. Come find out how you can find the joy.
~Rev. Michael Kelley