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Community & Service 5 Mar 2021

Virtually possible: how we made the "Just Sing" video

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

In these socially distanced times, we knew we would not be able to celebrate Uniting Nations week in person like in previous years. So we had to think creatively. The solution? “Just Sing”: a music video that features over 70 talented CIS choir students from Lakeside and TK. It's been a labour of love these past few months for all the students and staff involved. Let’s hear their stories.

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Michelle Sharp, Head of Marketing and Communications

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about how you came up with the idea for the video?
A: While COVID-19 restrictions are necessary, some of the simple things you take for granted in a school community have been impacted. Thinking about UN week, I was trying to think of what we could do to showcase our students and our collective cultural diversity, and just bring some joy to everyone.

Q: How did you choose the song?
A: I follow the One Voice children’s choir, so the inspiration came from that. I presented the concept to our music team — and they loved it. They chose the song and the rest is history.

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this video?
A: After some initial lively discussions, our DP Music Teacher and Creative Arts Activity Coordinator, Ann Zellhoefer put together a very clear project plan. Even with the long (and I mean long) hours people put in, because everyone was so excited and wanted it to be perfect, it really did run smoothly.

Q: What is the most rewarding part in producing a project like this?
A: Seeing that passion and commitment come to life - we had great cross campus / cross departmental collaboration.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: I love it. If it brings a lump to my throat, I know it’s great!

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Ann Zellhoefer, DP Music Teacher and Creative Arts Activity Coordinator

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the video? What role did you play?
A: It was truly an honour, as project manager, to have had the opportunity to work with the talented team of professionals here at CIS. There were countless hours that went into the project, aside from teaching, and every hour was worth it! Collaborating with others is a huge creative force.

Q: How did you approach a task of this magnitude?
A: With excitement! Students have missed performing together in the choir and instrumental ensembles because of COVID restrictions. We saw the excitement in student’s eyes as they felt proud to take part in this UN Music Project. I was grateful that CIS had the audio and visual recording technicians that had the talent and skills needed to make this project a success. The music team was excited to take part in such a large-scale project that would benefit the students and create memories. We hit the road running by sharing musical ideas, which started the creative process.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: Vibrant, alive and joyful! I was emotional as I watched the beautiful faces come alive on screen, making a human connection with the audience. The upbeat tempo and message of unity was captured in the final product.

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this performance piece?
A: The most challenging part was the fact that we couldn’t rehearse with students in large groups. This cut down on the amount of preparation to perfect the piece. It’s difficult to go into a recording studio for the first time, and sing or play alone without the comfort of performing in a group with a director.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: The most rewarding part was watching students in the recording sessions. Students that represent many different countries around the world were open to expressing their individual and unique personalities all in the joy of making music!

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Tom Anderson, Music MYP Teacher

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the video? What role did you play?
A: My role, with Ann and Jasmine, was to consult on and plan the overall production of the project. Additionally, my specific role was to invite student instrumentalists from our secondary ensembles and DP music program to participate in the project. We didn’t want to use a pre-recorded accompaniment track. We wanted our student musicians to provide the backing track. I rehearsed and prepared instrumentalists for their recording sessions. I also worked with the video and audio production crew to create the overall concept map for the final product.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: I’m delighted! It reflects our students and CIS culture so beautifully. Both the technical aspects and the musical aspects were just right! Our video production team, Andrea and Robin, did a superb job bringing a thousand pieces of information together into a polished final product. And Egmond Boon did a masterful job mixing and remixing all the vocal/instrumentals. I’m so very pleased with it!

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this video?
A: Managing the recording schedule! Maneuvering around teaching schedules, students’ classes, Mr Boon’s schedule and studio availability was the most complex logistic we had to manage. Then, I’d say scheduling rehearsal time with nearly 70 students to ensure they were prepared for their recording was a very large task.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: Working with our students is, by itself, one of the most significant rewards for me in my long-term teaching at CIS. I believe we have some of the best students on the island, not only in academics, but in character, talent, potential and ability. I love working with our students! They are fun, brilliant, accommodating, creative and demonstrate our core values in their daily interactions. It’s a joy to work with students of that calibre, no matter how hard the work or complex the task.


Q&A with Jasmine Heath, MYP Music Teacher

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the video? What role did you play?
A: I worked alongside Tom and Ann for this project. I was so excited when we first met to discuss the idea and decide which song to use. I really couldn’t sleep, I was that excited. Along with being a part of the planning, my role was also to help prepare and guide the singers. I coached the singers on their vocals and their stage presence. Ann and I met with small groups of students (due to covid regulations) for three weeks to ensure they were prepared for the videotaping.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: I’m in complete awe. I am speechless. Every single person worked so hard to complete this project and it really shows. The passion for the performing arts shines through our students and our educators that were involved. A lot of time was put into this. A lot of practice was put into this. It is clear. I’m teary-eyed as I answer the question because music really does just bring everyone together. Forget all your worries and ‘Just Sing’.

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this video?
A: The most challenging part of working on this video was finding all the time to fit everything in. We had to teach at the same time as prepare 55 vocalists for the performance then also be in with them while they performed. It was exhausting, but I loved every minute of it. I cried on a few occasions during recording sessions. I’m so proud of our performers.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: Working alongside such a wonderful team of teachers and students to create something so powerful and positive within a time of such uncertainty. I love being a performing arts teacher.

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Egmond Boon, Head of Creativity and Innovation

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the audio recordings, mixing and mastering? What role did you play?
A: In this production, my role as audio engineer, music editor and re-recording mixer consisted of preparing the recording studio by setting up the correct mic configurations, adjusting the input signal flow and developing backtracks with a click-track for the vocalist and musicians to ensure precise timing. During the individual recording sessions, I provided the students directions from out of the control room via an internal comms system, to make sure we kept a safe distance and captured the best possible vocal or instrument track. After I finished recording the audio tracks, I started the post-production process which involved timing corrections, level and panning adjustments, and EQ and compression routings.

Q: What does sound mixing involve?
A: Sound mixing is the process of taking recorded tracks and optimising and combining the multitrack recordings into a final mono, stereo or surround soundtrack. Tracks are blended using various processes such as EQ, Compression and Reverb. The goal of mixing is to bring out the best in your multi-track recording by adjusting levels, panning, and time-based audio effects (chorus, reverb, delay).

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this audio track?
A: The most challenging part was to record the 55 vocalists individually within the given time students had for the recordings and mix and pan the multitracks to a perfect harmonious ensemble sound in the final soundtrack.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: The most rewarding part of this project was to work with a group of passionate students and experience the joy throughout the recording process when they gave their best while working in a professional recording studio for most of them for the first time.

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Robin Viernes, Graphic Designer

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the video? What role did you play?
A: My role was camera operator, video editor and motion graphics designer. Together with my colleague Andrea, we started from scratch; we planned how to set up the lights, camera, the position of the subject and the technical settings. After we finished the filming, we planned how we would edit the video. At first we had to make sure that we got the final audio track, then we asked the musical director to give us the digital time markings. After that we came up with a simple storyboard. But while we were in the midst of the editing, we realised that the digital time markings were not enough so we decided to add more sequences to make it more dynamic and action-packed. The white background enabled us to use simple cuts, movement and editing to make it flow well. Effective and simple.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: The final product is amazing and wonderful. At first, I couldn't imagine the final product but when we finished editing, I’m so happy with the result.

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this video?
A: I think the most challenging part of producing this video was the editing. We had limited time and resources and we needed to adjust and make use of that.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: Seeing the people smiling and saying it’s wonderful while watching the video is so rewarding and heartwarming. I loved working with Andrea, and the rest of the musical teachers, students and producers.

Q&A with Andrea Bertoncelli, Videographer

Q: Tell us about your experience working on the video? What role did you play?
A: Together with my colleague Robin, we set up the lights and cameras to film students for this project. My role was camera operator and video editor.

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: I love the final product. It’s something unique that I have never seen before. It’s a CIS style!

Q: What was the most challenging part of producing this video?
A: From my side, definitely the editing part but I think students did a great job and it was not easy for them to sing and dance without any rehearsal. Mr Boon and all the music teachers did an amazing job.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being involved in this project?
A: It has been a pleasure working with my colleague Robin and I am happy we could produce this awesome project.

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Johan Stromsater, CEO

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: Enormously impressive. I got goosebumps when I first saw it. I want to congratulate both the staff and students who have been involved on their achievement

Q: What does this say about the values of CIS?
A: Our values are very close to our heart and something that guides us in how we manage the school day to day. This effort incorporates all of our values with Collaboration and Creativity right at the centre.

Q: What does this say about the breadth of experience and talent of the CIS staff?
A: I think the video speaks volumes about the passion, expertise and breadth of experience of our teachers and staff but also about our fantastic students.

Canadian International School, international schools in Singapore, primary schools in Singapore, secondary schools in Singapore, music video, school values, music performance, Uniting Nations week, UN week, cultural celebrations


Q&A with Pete Corcoran, Head of School

Q: What do you think of the final product?
A: When I saw this video it reminds me of all those amazing performances that we would normally enjoy from our students throughout the year in pre-COVID times. Grade 3 and 5 musicals, the secondary plays, Beatfreaked, the IBDP performances are just a few examples that come to mind.

Q: What does this say about the values of CIS?
A: One of the most impressive things about this school has been our collective ability to shine in the face of adversity and to rise to the challenge of sharing the creativity and talent of our students within the constraints of social distancing guidelines.

Q: What does this say about the breadth of experience and talent of the CIS staff?
A: Behind every student in that frame, on our stage or in front of an audience is a team of teachers, support staff, coaches and parents dedicated to helping them reach their full potential.

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