Category Archives: Songcircles

Virtual Songcircles

Songmakers and other virtual Song Circles Information you are welcome to share with non-members too! 

(updated 02:45 PDT on 4/17/2021)

Until further notice, Songmakers neither endorses nor recommends in-person events. All previously scheduled in-person events through May 2021 are officially DARK and any beyond are considered tentative.

Quick Notes:

  1. Face Masks are required throughout the state.
  2. See updated 02/28/2021 Zoom setup below.
  3. As always for Zoom Song Circles, ensure you have the most recent Zoom update and keep your mic muted unless you are speaking or it’s your turn to lead.


Weekly Repeating Event List

All times are Pacific Time Zone


Every Sunday 7-10:15pm: Virtual Agoura Hills Song CircleSteven Mark Berman <> is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom Song Circle: Join via: Meeting ID: 637 717 652 Password: 008615 

Every Monday 10am: Camarillo Senior Center Ukulele Strummers of Camarillo virtual Song Circle open to all instruments via Zoom led by Alan Ferentz. Session begins with a few warmup songs followed by members selecting & leading a song. Meeting ID: 909 215 604 Password: uku1313

Every Monday 12-4pm: Mudcat Worldwide Zoom Singaround, Email Joe Offer <> to get the meeting number and password sent to you by email on Sundays (changes weekly). Joe is the Music Editor, The Mudcat Cafe Folk Music Discussion Forum.

Every Monday (1st Monday is a uke lesson) 7pm: Virtual E. P. Foster Library Song Circle. All instruments are welcome to come virtually enjoy. Join via: – Meeting ID: 426 255 353. Password: uku1313SMPOC: Alan Ferentz <>

Every Wednesday 1-2pm: Bill’s Uke Beginner Ukulele Class via Zoom, Email Bill Dempsey <> to get meeting number and password sent to you by email on Tuesday. For more info: New album, Oft I Sing, currently available only as a download. Here’s a link

Every Wednesday Virtual Open Mic. 6:00 sign-in for 7pm:  Guitar Merchant Open Mic. 2 songs or 8 minutes. Go to Zoom by clicking any time after 6:00 PM to sign up to perform or to watch. If performing, please read “Zoom Setup for Music Performance” below. For more information, email <>. SMPOC: Joel Amromin.

Every Thursday 7-10pm: Virtual Chuck Behrman’s Thursday Evening Zoom <>. Every Thursday throughout the Covid-19 lockdown – Join Zoom Meeting:  –  Meeting ID: 835 4939 6377  Password: 262022

Every Friday morning from 9:30-11:30am: David Steinhart’s Song Circle. Start the Day With A Song! – Join Zoom Meeting: – Meeting ID: 891 6256 9327 – Passcode if needed: 839872

Every Saturday 9:30-10:30am: Bill’s Uke Beginner Ukulele Class via Zoom, Email Bill Dempsey <> to get meeting number and password sent to you by email. For more info: New album, Oft I Sing, currently available only as a download. Here’s a link


Not Weekly Chronological Event List

All times are Pacific Time Zone


Apr 20 – 1st & 3rd Tuesdays 1-3pm: SFFMC Zoom Sings will have a song swap in the lobby and breakout rooms will be available. If you have a suggestion for a workshop subject, please e-mail it to or phone 510-473-6651. Edward Hilton is inviting you to join via Meeting ID: 875 3243 0768 Passcode: sing

Apr 20 1st & 3rd Tuesday 7-10pm: Virtual THOUSAND OAKS HOOT.  Valerie Kotas (text best via 805-523-1760 / email <> is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. The Hoot begins promptly at 7pm but join for some social time 6-6:50pm for cocktails & dinner together virtually. This is the time to get the latest gossip, go over the latest riffs and drop-down tunings. Eat your dinner without having to blackout your video. ​Third Tuesday of the month links: – Meeting ID: 837 0624 3930 – Passcode: 658271. Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system: Third Tuesday Monthly:–qqjgjGdTqAOfzIEFPN4-O8z7cf6TZ/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGrqTssGNCWuRqHRpwqB4igM-rwiHZEjadpjT7KBTp6RyXGGLYPHeplR9vW

Apr 232nd & 4th Fridays 7-11:59pm: San Francisco Folk Music Club – For full details and to sign up, go to

Apr 26 – 2nd & 4th Monday 3:00-5:00pm: Virtual Woodland Hills Zoom Song Circle. Co leaders Alan Stillson  <> and Linnea Richards <> are inviting you to attend the Virtual Woodland Hills Zoom Song Circle. All musical instruments are welcome. It will be run with Songmakers protocols for Zoom events. Join Zoom meeting at Meeting ID: 337 059 8819. Find your local number:  

Apr 27 (Zoom link changed) – 2nd & 4th Tuesday 4-6:30pm: Virtual Port Hueneme Zoom Song Circle. Marty Capsuto <> is inviting you to a SCAN Health Plan sponsored Song Circle. Join Zoom Meeting via: – Meeting ID: 634 543 8370 – Passcode: ac9gM3 / One tap mobile +16699006833,,6345438370#,,,,,,0#,,728002# US (San Jose) Dial by your location +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 634 543 8370 Passcode: 728002


Our Hoot Liaison, Sandy Lessner, invites you to check out for many show / performance viewing opportunities.


Make reservations early for Kenney Grove camp outs you want to attend.

2021 Prospective / The 2021 Kenney Grove tentative schedule:

     May 27-31, 2021 – Memorial Day is Officially “DARK”. IT IS NOT A SONGMAKERS EVENT! (You can request a refund based on the fact of this Songmakers event being DARK. I believe, before 30 days is the official deadline.)

The latest updated 4/03/2021 from states in part:

For now, fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

     Jul 29-Aug 01 – Summer Camp “Tentative” so “DARK”

     Sep 03-06 – Labor Day Weekend “Tentative” so “DARK”

     Oct 14-18 – Fall Out “Tentative” so “DARK”

Make reservations early for Kenney Grove camp outs you want to attend.



  • Non-members should email to to request inclusion for weekly email updates.
  • If you are aware of a public virtual song circle or want to host one, please provide the info to for inclusion to our members.


For quick, ZOOM SETUP FOR MUSIC PERFORMANCE, see the step by step procedures below provided by Joel Amromin. and Steve BermanAlan Ferentz notes: Zoom good info on the  Hi-Fidelity for music option at:



(provided by Joel Amromin – 02/28/2021)


Because Zoom is “tuned” for spoken word, it is less than perfect for music without some configurations. Here’s are procedures for configuring Zoom for music. These procedures depend on using “original sound,” which bypasses the Zoom processing for spoken word, such as noise suppression. You want it pure.

Joel Amromin will be logged on at 6pm Wednesdays to help with any technical issues and perform sound checks. To get this set up assistance / fine tuning, Zoom by clicking in the 6-7pm timeframe. Guitar Merchant Song Circle follows at 7pm.

Notes: Specific functions, labels, and locations will vary depending on what operating system and hardware you use. These instructions are based on Apple devices but should be the same or similar on other devices. The procedures get shorter for simpler devices because they have less capability. Zoom is not very good when it comes to consistent interfaces across platforms, so there are separate procedures below for various devices. Fortunately, you can now use the same procedure for smartphones and tablets.

For performing music, Zoom works best on a workstation or laptop with a hardwired (Ethernet) connection to a network. Wireless local connections, such as Bluetooth or WiFi are less effective and may have audio dropouts and/or video freezes depending on signal quality. Cellular connection is the poorest.

If Zoom asks for a password when entering a meeting, it wants your personal account password. If it asks for a passcode, it wants the passcode for the meeting.

If you don’t already have it, download and register the Zoom client for meetings from your app provider (e.g., Apple Store) or You must be on version 5.0.0 or later. You should frequently check for updates in the main Zoom menu. These instructions are based on the software as of Feb 28, 2021. They assume you have downloaded the Zoom client, kept it up to date, and registered for a free basic Zoom account. the version at the time of this writing is 5.5.2 for workstations/laptops and 5.5.3 for tablets and smartphones.

  1. Start the Zoom client. (Not necessary, but recommended, for tablets and smartphones.)
  1. Follow one of these two procedures.

For a workstation or laptop (should be about the same for Mac or Windows):

    1. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the up arrow next to the picture of a microphone, usually at the bottom of the screen. If you’ve previously set up steps b. through h and haven’t changed your audio equipment setup, skip ahead to step i.
    1. Click Audio Settings. The Audio Setting window appears.
    1. Turn off (uncheck) Automatically adjust microphone volume and set the Input Volume slider at around 90%. If people complain about your volume or based on a sound check conducted by the host, you may have to adjust it up or down, which you can do during the meeting.
    1. Under “Music and Professional Audio,” make sure Show in-meeting option to Turn on Original Sound from microphone and Echo cancellation are on (checked).
    1. High-fidelity music mode uses extra bandwidth. For most of us, it should be off.
    1. At the bottom of the window, click Advanced.
    1. Set Echo Cancellation to Auto; then click Back.
    1. Close the Settings window. The settings you have made are retained after you leave Zoom, so you only need to do it once.
    1. Join the meeting and click Turn on Original Sound, which is usually at the top of the meeting window. When set correctly, it will say “Turn off Original Sound.” The button shows the action it will take, not the current state—which is confusing.

Note: You can turn Original Sound on permanently by clicking the little down arrow next to “Turn off (or on) Original Sound,” and selecting your microphone. This microphone will then always be set for original sound when you enter a meeting. I don’t know which releases of Zoom support this.

For a tablet or smartphone, such as iPad or iPhone (should be the about same on other tablets or smartphones). The locations of the described items will vary between devices.

  1. If you’ve previously done steps b and c or are not using the Zoom client app, skip to step d.
  1. Click the Settings icon, which looks like a little gear; then click Meetings. The Meeting Settings window appears.
  1. Scroll the window down until you see Use Original Sound. Turn that on (checked); then exit the Meeting Settings. This setting will remain after you leave Zoom, so you only need to do it once.
  1. Join the meeting. If asked, log on with video. Click the three dots labeled “More.” Click Enable Original Sound. You’ll need to do this for each meeting.
  1. If the host conducts a sound check, you may be asked to adjust your microphone volume or other audio settings.
  1. When performing, you should be close to the microphone to avoid dropouts and background noise.

Zoom Etiquette at least for Guitar Merchant Open Mic

Most of this is obvious, but please review it.

  1. Be kind and courteous and treat everyone with respect. We’re all in this to create a welcoming environment. For performers, this means timing yourself and respecting the schedule.
  1. No profanity, hate speech, or bullying. This is a family-friendly place. Let’s keep degrading or bullying comments about race, religion, gender, etc. out of the meeting. We haven’t had any problems with this to date.
  1. Keep politics out of discussions. Political comments today, can trigger all sorts of things. But you can certainly sing political songs.
  1. As a rule, playing along with someone else while your mic is on doesn’t work well in Zoom because of network delays. It may sound fine to you, but by the time it goes out to everyone, you’re out of sync. Sometimes a harmonica or other accent instrument can be used between phrases. But do not play along online unless the performer asks you to do so. But do feel free to play or sing along at home.
  1. Spam and non-music links are not allowed. But promoting your own music, CDs, shows, etc. is fine. You’re also welcome to place links to these things in the chat window. Joel will try to set aside some time for announcements.
  1. Test your camera, microphone, computer, software, and Internet service as best you can before joining the meeting.
  1. DO NOT unmute yourself when someone is performing. Your mic will pick up background noise and may cause echoes. But as a song is ending, go ahead and unmute so that you can applaud, cheer, and otherwise soothe the performer’s delicate ego. We are performing for all of you, both audience and other performers, and appreciate the recognition. Just remember to mute yourself afterward.
  1. If there are activities in your room, such as a news broadcast, phone conversations, throwing the cat across the room, stir-frying dinner, or smashing pumpkins, mute yourself. Nobody wants to hear that stuff.

The following instructions are for getting the best results from your camera so that you look the best you can.

  1. Try to get light on your face. All too often, people sit in a well-lit room with the light behind them, resulting in a very dark face. A bright window behind you will totally hide your face.

  1. Try to get your camera up around eye level so that we see a pleasant portrait of you. It’s very common for people with laptops, smartphones, and tablets to put them on the table looking up into their nostrils. Not pleasant for viewers and not complimentary to you.
  1. If you need to get up and move about, click the Stop Video button. It’s distracting to see people’s bellies (or worse) moving around the room.

  1. If you need to move your device to another location, such as a different room, click the Stop Video button. Viewers can get distracted or even seasick seeing the image from your camera as you move about.


On Zoom – Pres Sez… (10/04/2020)

(Editors Note: If there is conflict in the info between this and the updated 2/28/2021 above, I’d start with the 2/28  instructions.)


Zoom free accounts have a 40-minute duration. Contact Steve to coordinate longer sessions. First download and register the free Zoom Client for Meetings at:

You can find many sources of instruction about hosting Zoom music sessions. The u-tube videos I found helpful can be found at: and


Have as little as possible running on your system while hosting, maybe just Zoom, your email and whatever text files you might want to screen-share with lyrics and chords of songs you plan to play. Use a hardwired (Ethernet) connection to your router. You can put in a browser and check your download and upload speed through Ethernet vs Wi-Fi, and with different applications running. My download speed more than doubled with Ethernet and little else running.

Use an external microphone and speakers if available. Built in computer audio input/output should work (that is all I had for my first month of hosting), but not as well.

Before anyone enters the meeting, use the following steps to optimize your Zoom for Music:

  1. When you see your face upon starting the meeting, click up arrow to the right of the microphone (audio) icon in the lower left of your screen, and go down to Audio Setting
  2. Test sound to be sure it passes. I was advised that you should then turn off both “automatically adjust volume”, and use the sliders to set them high, which you can continue to adjust throughout the meeting. However, I have not experimented with this yet in a meeting so you may want to do so.
  3. Click advanced at the bottom right and check the REALLY important parameters for music: Check “Show in-meeting option to Enable Original Sound” at top. Make sure original sound is enabled during the meeting. DISABLE suppression of the 2 forms of background noise. Leave echo suppression on auto. Your music quality will thank you 🙂

I think these are good tips even when you are not hosting, if they can be applied, to make your individual audio optimal.

After starting a session, you can assign anyone who joins to be the host instead of you. This can help if they have a better system than you do, especially audio input/output devices, speed/bandwidth. However, experiment, and pass on your own wisdom to your fellow Songmakers via me, TJ at the weekly EChord, and/or website posts that comprise the new Bard Chord.

I hope to see you soon on my Zoom channel, 637717652. I’ll host the Virtual Agoura Hills Song Circle from 7-10:15 pm each Sunday until we can play in the same room again. May that day come soon. You may be required to provide the password, 008615, because hackers disrupting Zoom meetings have recently mandated increased security. The invitation is above in the listings.

The famous Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” seems particularly appropriate now. Stay home, stay safe, keep playing music, and we’ll get through these “interesting times” together. Remember to give thanks for all our blessings every single day! They didn’t have the internet in the 1918 pandemic! Songmakers will always be high on my gratitude list!