Magic Choral Trick #121 The Video is Our Friend
Sometimes we live in a fluffy pink world where we’re smart, savvy, clever and really good at what we do. Then we see ourselves on video.
The video is our friend the way only the best of friends will tell you that you have something green and leafy stuck in your teeth.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the video, in the digital age, is that it can be viewed on your computer in the privacy of your own home. This does not need to be a public humiliation.
From a director’s or a chorus choreographer’s point of view, the video is the best possible tool for letting people know, in a kind way, what they look like as they sing and move. No hurt feelings, nobody gets singled out – and better yet, it takes everything out of the realm of someone else’s opinion. When a singer is doing something differently from everyone else, it’s obvious.
I’ve often said to choirs that I’d like them to exaggerate any facial expressions, and that when they give me too much, I’ll let them know. I think that in 35 years, I might have asked only 3 or 4 people for slightly less facial movement. Nowadays, they just need to see the video once and they understand.
When we watch ourselves on video, most of us are shocked by either our lack of facial expression, or the physical things that we’re doing that’ll single us out to an audience. This includes the individual quirky things that we may never have noticed – like fixing hair or clothes, scratching or grimacing.
Many singers are so self conscious about the possibility of overdoing it, that they tend to underplay the planned visual aspects of their performance. However, when there’s one inactive face in a sea of expressive ones – guess who’s going to stand out.
Recording one or two pieces a week with a video camera with good quality sound can serve as a tool for education and for documenting progress, but can also be a vital part of recording the choir’s history. We never know just how much those videos may mean to us some day.