Until May 2020, Zoom was something I’d seen ads for on the tube, but hadn’t really registered as something that would be relevant for my life, which is very far away from a corporate business world!
In the last week, though, I’ve attended two day-long conferences, planned and sound-checked a virtual concert, taught 5 music lessons, taken part in 2 Bible studies and had multiple meetings and catch ups, (including a double dinner date!) all on Zoom.
Safe to say, I am very much still a beginner! But I’d love to share some of the tips I’ve picked up on how to use Zoom well for music – this blog post will hopefully give you what you need to be able to use live music as part of virtual church gatherings.
The most important thing to do is to change the audio settings for the person leading the music. Zoom’s default settings are for speech, so it will automatically get rid of any sound it seems as ‘background’, which includes most musical notes, especially long ones.
Make sure you’re on a computer rather than a tablet/phone to have these settings.
Then find ‘Audio Settings’ (at the bottom right on our computer, but varies), and click on ‘Advanced’.
Make sure that original sound is enabled (the box should be ticked for music), and also disable the first two drop down boxes.
There will then appear the option on your screen to turn off/on the original sound, so if the musician is also leading another part of the gathering where they’re just speaking, they can quickly change the settings back.
The other important thing to remember is for everyone else to be muted (you can get the ‘host’ of the Zoom meeting to do this). Obviously it is sad not to be able to hear everyone else singing with you, but this makes a big difference
- Because of the slight delay on the sound between devices and
- The audio on Zoom works better when it is not interfered with by audio coming from different sources.
Let’s pray for God to speed the day when we can sing together in large numbers again!
The sound still won’t be perfect, but it will work a lot better! If a church member has a mic that is easy to use as an input into a computer, that might be worth experimenting with.
It’s important that we remain above reproach in regard to respecting copyright law. Thankfully, CCLI have really swiftly responded to the needs of churches this week, and so the following are now available:
This is about lyrics. So if you are projecting song lyrics as part of your stream, you should make sure you’ve got one of these.
Limited Online Music Licence
This is about the music. If you are playing a song on your stream, you will need one of these, even if you’re distributing the lyrics elsewhere e.g. by emailing round a pdf.
N.B. if you are hosting a church gathering on Zoom where only church members have access i.e. there is no public access to it, you shouldn’t need these copyright licenses.
Also, all songs older than 70 years are free from copyright!
This link from CCLI has some more detail: https://uk.ccli.com/ccli-news/recording-streaming-and-podcasting-your-services/
And here’s a helpful article for thinking about music and tech for live streaming a service from Music Ministry: https://www.music-ministry.org/cant-we-just-stick-the-service-online/
I hope this helps you continue to praise God together! Any questions, fire them in a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Katie Lewis is a freelance musician living in Cambridge. She’s primarily an oboist, and especially loves playing Bach, but uses a variety of instruments both in music teaching and in church music.