Making videos for choir practice: a few methods

• Dec 6, 2018 - 20:15

G'day everyone

I use MuseScore for choir practice. I turn the choir's official scores (handwritten, photocopied, faxed(!)) to MuseScore format so that I can e.g. create better versions, create versions for specific voices, add pronunciation guides, etc. I also use MuseScore to generate audio files to practice with. Although two of our members want MIDI files (Anvil Studio), the rest want something they can play back on their smartphones -- so that means making YouTube videos.

I'd like your opinion (if you're a choir singer) about the various ways to put the music on YouTube -- cheaply and without too much effort.

What I did mostly until now is to create a version of the score in which each line is on a separate page, and then I use TechSmith's SnagIt (not free, but quite user-friendly) to take a screenshot while the score is playing in MuseScore. However, this has some downsides, and I'm thinking of other ways. Here are some -- please give me your comments, and/or give some more ideas about what can be done.

Score, screencaptured from MuseScore
This shows the score as well as a progress bar, since it was screencaptured directly from Musescore. This is how I used to make the videos until now. Down sides are the fact that the progress bar sometimes lags behind, notes light up in blue which are not the notes that are playing, and all the hidden stuff is visible. On the up side, pages turn by themselves.

Score, from PDF, showing current line only
This shows the score as a PDF file in which I have to manually move to the next page whenever it's time. You may notice that I was a fraction too soon or too late in turning some of the pages -- I'm not sure how much this would bother a viewer. Showing a single line is better on smart phone screens than showing multiple lines.

Score, from PDF, showing next line
This also shows the score as a PDF file in which I have to manually move to the next page whenever it's time. I added the next line each time, so that singers who want to "read ahead" can do so (a great idea in theory, but I'm not sure if it is so great in practice).

Lyrics only, per section:
This shows only the lyrics, and singers are supposed to know which words they do or do not sing (for example, this is the bass version, and the bass singers skip certain words, and other words are sung by bass singers only).

Lyrics only, per verse:
This shows only the lyrics, and shows the entire verse plus chorus, and singers are supposed to know which words they do or do not sing (for example, this is the tenor version, and some words are not sung by the tenors).

I'm not sure how difficult it would be to create karaoke style lyrics with a bouncing ball on each word, but I suspect it would be quite a bit of work, particularly since I'd have to customise a video for each voice. Right now I also create a separate video for each voice, but it doesn't take much longer to create a video than the time it takes to simply play the music.

Your thoughts?


You could use for this! Store your scores there ("Save online") and share the link with your choir members. If they want MIDI: voila, it is there, if they want PDF, there too, and viewing, including playback: that's there too! To downlowd (PDF/MIDI/MP3/MSCZ/MusixXML) they need an account though (but a non-Pro is sufficient and for free), just you may need a Pro account to be able to share more then 5 scores that way

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thanks, I've tried using MuseScore's online system for this, but there are a few problems with it. I uploaded it temporarily to see what it would look like:

  1. The conversion to YouTube format is a bit lacking. Here is what this same song looks like when converted to YouTube format using MuseScore's online system:
    One has no control over which measures appear together on a screen, and certain customisations don't survive the conversion -- for example, notice how the notes overlap the lyrics in this version, whereas in the score itself there are staff spacers to prevent this from happening. I do like the responsive progress bar, though.
    Also, notes that are set to "Play" are shown in blue, but the way my scores are put together, the visible alto and bass notes are set to "Not play", so they're not in blue in this version. This is a minor issue but it could be confusing for choir members who don't read instructions.
  2. There are licensing issues. Due to a special arrangement between YouTube and my country of residence's music licensing authorities, certain scores that are otherwise copyrighted are somehow exempted when shown as videos on YouTube. Only about half of our choir's songs are public domain.
  3. Requiring users to register for a service is a big hurdle -- these folks are very nice but one mustn't raise the bar too high.

In reply to by ugcheleuce

You can mark scores as private ans thare the secret link. That's what I do. And for download mscz and PDF I have the choir's website (also needs a logon, due to copyright constrains)

And for every member that wants more: (s)he can download and install MuseScore and play along, transpose (like our clarinetist does for example), solo/mute... Not many do though. And I'm still the only one singing off of my tablet (and on last rehearsal even from my phone, when the tablets battery went flat), no paper at all

Some comments:
1. On the videos that play multiple verses, yes, there is a little bit too much silence between verses, but this is fixable.
2. YouTube automatically chooses a video quality, and sometimes a higher quality is available even though YouTube chooses to display a lower quality.
3. On the MuseScore version, I don't show the song title because I want the score to remain in the same position on the screen at all times (i.e. not move upwards from page 2 onwards).
4. I personally find it more useful if all voices can be heard, and the main voice is just loud. I accomplish this by removing all dynamics from the score and then setting the main voice to forte and the other voices to pianissimo (this seems to be the simplest way of doing it).
5. I sometimes add a metronome (which I add by adding a line of wood blocks).
6. I tried using Soprano/Alto/Tenor/Bass sax instead of piano -- sometimes it sounds better but most of the time the piano has the best sound for choir practice. I personally find that using Aaaaah doesn't help to learn the notes precisely.

In reply to by ugcheleuce

I've used MuseScore's smartphone app. It has a feature called "Songbook" which allows you to store the MuseScore files on your phone locally (they're tiny). We also encourage members to go to our private MuseScore site and sing along with scores there. With COVID being a concern, I'm convinced this is going to supplant in-person rehearsing for the time being. I'm making MuseScore versions of many of the choral classics.

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