The Taunton School Music Department have managed to produce an incredible large-scale choir performance remotely with over 60 singers in spite of lockdown measures.
Director of Music Mark Cracknell and his team have been holding virtual rehearsals for the past three weeks with the School’s Community Choir – a group which includes students, staff and the wider Taunton School community. Their efforts culminated in a moving rendition of Michael Jackson’s “You are not Alone” shown for the first time on Taunton School’s social media on VE Day, encouraging listeners to take a moment to reflect, remember and bring together the whole community on an important day.
Mark Cracknell explained how he carried off such a feat: “First I made the backing track, playing in all the parts and mixing it. We then held live rehearsals on the school virtual learning platforms; about 60 people came along and sang while we did warm ups and rehearsed the piece. I then put the backing tracks with guide parts for all the parts onto the internet for them to rehearse.”
Mark created videos giving instructions of how choir members could record themselves, with the backing track playing through headphones. After a couple of weeks of rehearsals, the individual films started to flood in. Mark said: “I mixed all the various singers together so that they were together and balanced with each other and the backing track.”
The response on social media has been overwhelming with thousands of views over the VE commemoration weekend.
Mark said: “I think it’s a great achievement for our first attempt at a virtual choir, with the community coming together to sing a positive message. Highlighting the quality and breadth of our music making in the school and doing something in a relatively short time that is incredibly worthwhile. Music is a vital part of our communities and makes such a positive impact on our wellbeing – something which is incredibly important at the moment.”
“As we go further into the lockdown period and virtual schooling we are now producing a contrasting upbeat song – Elton John’s classic and apt – ‘I’m Still Standing!’”