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Vancouver choir finds new and inventive way to practice together but safely apart

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The Vancouver Thunderbird Chorus tried to use zoom to reconnect and sing together. But there were issues with delays and timing. So with a little technical know-how, they found a way around it. Jay Durant reports – May 23, 2021

Holding choir practice used to be so easy for the Vancouver Thunderbird Chorus.

For 71 years, the members only had to show up and practice would begin.

However, the last time the singers were able to get together for a regular rehearsal was March, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are a little trickier these days.

The group cannot use Zoom because there are delays and challenges with timing. However, with a  little technical know-how, they have found a way to reconnect.

Each person is safely separated in their own vehicles and connected to each other through a central mixing board into the car FM radio.

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“It creates as far as possible the same sensation as if we are standing together on the risers,” Paul Melhus, Vancouver Thunderbird Chorus president told Global News.

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On Sundays, the group grows substantially, Melhus added with dozens of cars lined up in an open parking lot.

“It’s something we really missed,” the group’s director David Vincent said. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until you get back to it and then it’s ‘whoah’.”

This setup allows them to harmonize in real-time with no lag, keeping them sharp for the day when they can perform together again. The chorus regularly sings to children in hospitals and senior care centres to help keep spirits high.

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“A lot of the songs that we sing are the ones that our seniors know from their era so they sing along with us sometimes,” Melhus added.

“Just being able to sing together, to hear each other sing,” said Vincent. “After that long without doing it, it was a very emotional time for u.”

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