Virtual Choir Guide for S’lichot and HHD 2020/5781

Dear Cantors and Community Singers:
Thank you for participating in this awesome project.  Attached you will find sheet music and links to videos that will enable you to participate in creating our Virtual Choir Videos for two versions of Avinu Malkeinu:  Hassidic and Janowski.  They show Ruth Charloff, our TBI choral conductor and conductor of the UC Riverside Orchestra and Chamber Singers conducting, and TBI accompanist Randy Polevoi on piano. Last week, our “guest” singers who join us regularly for HHD at TBI recorded individual parts at their homes.  We then mixed their recordings together with the conductor/piano video as guides to recording your parts.

The vocal lines, piano, conductor and video are all in sync and you should be able to follow along and join in (just like real life!).

Please note that there is a visual and audible CLAP prior to starting each piece.  This is like the “slate” used when shooting a movie and helps us more easily line up your video and audio.  It is important you try to match RUTH’s clap as closely as possibly.  Use the video as your guide more than the audio, though do not stress if you feel it wasn’t perfect.  There is then a delay before Ruth’s conducting begins and the start of the piece.   It’s important to have at least 5 seconds of silence at the beginning after you start recording, but before the clap” and also at end of your performance before you push “stop.

FOR THESE TWO AVINU MALKEINUS, YOU ARE MAKING VIDEOS OF YOURSELVES, not just audio.   Please read all of the instructions and guidance below.  We know it’s a lot, but it’s important and consistency will make a BIG difference.

Cantor Paul has created a video that summarizes much of the technical aspects that you can access here.

When – Please try to accomplish this with 4 or 5 days of receipt.  The total recording time is less than 5 minutes, including both pieces, but you will want to rehearse yourself a number of times.

How-  We suggest starting with the “all parts” recording to get the feel and then study your individual part using the part-predominant recording for your particular voice type.   (These four part-predominant recordings are simply the full mix with one particular part brought to the fore.)  You can use this part-predominant video as your final recording guide, but remember that the object is to FOLLOW THE CONDUCTOR more than match the audio on the recording.  You want to feel part of the whole ensemble, just like singing live in the sanctuary.

Here are links for the sheet music and short pronunciation guides (audio), spoken, not sung for the two pieces:

Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Sheet Music
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Pronunciation Guide

Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Sheet Music
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Pronunciation Guide

Here are the links for part practice and recording:
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Tenor
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Soprano
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Alto
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic Bass
Avinu Malkeinu Chassidic All Parts

Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Mix w/opening solo
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Bass 2
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Bass 1
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Tenor
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Alto 1
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Alto 2
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Soprano 2
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Soprano 1
Avinu Malkeinu Janowski Mix no solo

We know these may be different from the versions you’ve sung before, either in arrangement or key, but they’ll quickly become familiar.

FYI, a translation of the text is found here:

(BTW, as the Hebrew “Avinu Malkeinu” literally translates to English as “Our Father, Our King”, Reform Jews nowadays get away from the definite gender of that by leaving the “Avinu Malkeinu” words in Hebrew, or moving to a “Parent/Sovereign” concept.)

You may notice that the pronunciation of the guide-singers is occasionally imperfect. In those instances, don’t match them, but go with your scores and the correct pronunciation which you’re probably used to doing!  In particular, be careful with the following, where you will hear a bit of confusion:
– the plain “k” sound (as in tzedakah) vs. the “ch” sound (as in chesed) — which in the Hassidic score appears as “h” with a dot beneath it vs. the plain “h” sound (as in v’hoshienu).

(Note- The process of remote recording is complicated enough, and we did not ask the guide-singers to re-record their performances to correct these small discrepancies.  Your understanding is appreciated and it will be repaired for the final product.)

Hassidic version – I’m sure you remember that we sometimes adjust certain letters, in pronunciation.   It’s because of small differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Hebrew pronunciation.   (Here’s a very brief explanation:   Older-printed music often has Ashkenazic transliteration, whereas most American synagogues now go with Sephardic.   You may have noticed that some of our oldest congregants have  somewhat different pronunciation when they come to the bima.

SO: “Ovinu” is pronounced “Avinu.”   Etc. with other “o” vowels becoming “ah.” But not all “o’s” become “ah’s” – for instance, v’hoshienu” actually has “o”.  So please listen to the pronunciation track for a refresher.

Janowski version- this particular video is designed not only for virtual participation by choir, but also by cantors — different cantors will use this video to sing the opening and other solo bits.  That’s the reason for the long lead-in, establishing tempo and flow before they start their solo.  Alas, to coordinate your recordings, we will still need your together-clap (“the slate”, as in a movie) at the beginning! So you’ll need to clap and follow along through the opening cantor solo.  For reference, the choir entrance at the bottom of p. 1 takes place at approx. 1:06 of the video.  The parts divide at the bottom of p. 3, so just start out from the beginning with your appropriate part recording.

PLEASE NOTE that we are going to do the rhythm as notated.   This may be different from how you’ve sung the piece before, so please go along with the guide singers at these spots. In particular, attend to wherever a figure has an EIGHTH NOTE pickup (not the sixteenth as on the word “Avinu” at the get-go).   The eighth-note pickups occur at top of p. 2, bottom of p. 2, top of p. 3 (but not on “ma’aleinu”), and top of p. 5.

What to wear – solid colors, NOT WHITE.  No logos, etc.  Doesn’t need to be black.  No suit necessary; not super formal, but nice-looking.

 – plain wall, or plain-ish — not distracting or cluttered.  Make sure your head/face are clear and easy to see, with nothing interfering from behind with the outline of your head.
Look at how much of your screen you’re filling.  You probably want to be about 18” from your camera.
Please record horizontally. Turn off fans, heaters or anything that hums or is noisy.

Please make sure your face is brightly and softly lit.
Use whatever lamps or natural light you have available to achieve this.  Don’t be lit from behind – much better to face your window than be silhouetted against it.  And overhead light may cast shadows, so look at that before you commit to it.  Set up your lamp behind your screen, illuminating your face from the front, or bounce the light from a strong lamp off the wall in front of you.  Please avoid having any bright light sources in the picture.

To record your video you will need two devices: one device (probably computer or tablet ) to play the part-predominate video for your partand another device (probably your phone) to record your performance.

You will need to wear headphones (or earbuds) so that you can listen to the playback computer or tablet while you’re singing.  The video that you record on your phone will have ONLY your voice and picture. You can use wired or wireless headphones connected to the playback computer or tablet.

  1. If you are using a smartphone, turn it to Airplane Mode so your recording isn’t interrupted by a message or call.
  2.  Connect your headphones to the device you’re using to listen to.
  3. Set-up and secure your second device (phone probably) to record your video. Make sure you record horizontally (landscape) and that your face is centered in the middle of the screen.
  4.  Most smartphones create good quality videos without adjustment, but if you are presented with options choose MP4 and 720p.
  5. Start YOUR RECORDING FIRST, then start the playback from the other device.  Don’t worry, we easily cut out what we don’t need and you’ll have the 5 seconds lead in we will need.  Then get ready to clap with Ruth and follow her direction and the guide track.  Please wait for approximately five counts (in your head!) after you finish singing before you stop recording.  Smile.
  6. Your video should automatically save to your device after you hit stop, but if given an option, rememberto save your video.

After you do one of the versions, go back and do the other before proceeding to send them to us.

The last part of the process is to upload your videos to our Google Drive.  The easiest way is to make sure you have the Google Drive app installed on your phone or device.  If you don’t have, get it from your respective app stores.

THEN UPLOAD TO OUR SHARED GOOGLE DRIVE by clicking here.  If you have the app installed it should take you to our Community Uploads folder.  There you will find specific sub-folders for each version of Avinu Malkeinu and your part.  Click on the appropriate folder and then click on upload.  You should then have a option to upload from Photos/Videos on your device.  Click on the correct video and it will be on its way.  The files are generally quick large so it will take a few minutes.  Avoid using your phone or device until after the upload is completed.

One final action- After the video is uploaded, please rename your video by clicking on the “three dots . . . that appear next to the file name, and clicking on “Rename”.

LABEL YOUR VIDEO like this:  song (either Avinu Chassidic or Janowski), part, your name and synagogue ( e.g. “Janowski sop 1 BuchTBI” or  “Chassidic alto CampbellTBD”).

Any questions, please reach out to Cantor Paul Buch by calling or texting him at 909-542-8150.  FYI, there is also a folder on the drive that contains the attached music and pronunciation audio.

Thank you so much for engaging with us, each other and the whole community in this way.

L’shana Tovah u’M’tukah,
Cantor Paul Buch
Temple Beth Israel