All Official Songmakers Gatherings Dark Until Further Notice
In compliance with current federal, state and county mandates, all official Songmakers events will go dark until restrictions are lifted. This difficult decision is made easier only by our love and concern for all of our members and your families.
Music brought us together, and music will help sustain us during this difficult time. The board and members at large are exploring ways for us to share music and companionship going forward. For starters maybe pick up your instrument, or sing in the shower, or dust off your Songmakers directory and give someone a call.
Prez Sez 4/4/2020
I’ve been exploring ways for us to play music together virtually. The bad news is that all the platforms designed for this seem to need specific hardware or have other limitations that make them inappropriate for Songmaker Virtual Song Circles during this crisis (Amazon said that an Ethernet cable could not be delivered for a month). Ninjam with Reaper is a free download that may be useful for small groups by using one of their public servers. It delays signal by the number of bars the song repeats, in order to synchronize audio streams from all players. If you are tech minded, and especially if you have experience and maybe equipment for sound editing, I’d be very obliged, if you want to try to get that going. After download you can join a user forum, which will instruct you, including utube videos. Hey – we’ve got lots of time on our hands now – right? : )
The good news is that AV conferencing software works better. In general, it is best for participants to keep themselves muted if they are not leading a song, or making a statement during the time between songs. Then they should mute themselves again. You can explore staying unmuted between songs but be ready to mute if needed. With small groups not very far apart geographically, it may occasionally be possible to have two computers unmuted during music, but generally this will not work.
The best conferencing software I’ve found is Zoom. You can enter Zoom meetings on most Macs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and even use telephone log in (but without video). Several internet browsers are supported, although some will have more features. I’ve found Google Chrome to be best so far.
On Hosting Zoom meetings for music (from a total newbie)
Zoom recently announced that they are giving all free accounts unlimited duration sessions during this crisis. I suggest jumping on this fast if you are interested in hosting. 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:
Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned so far:
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 speedtest.net in a browser and check your download and upload speed through Ethernet vs WiFi, 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’s all I have), but not as well.
Before anyone enters the meeting
L 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’re 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, I’m only a couple days into learning about Zoom. So 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 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 below.
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!
Virtual Agoura Hills Song Circle
Sunday, April 5⋅7:00 – 10:15pm
Weekly on Sunday
1 yes, 36 awaiting
Description:Steven Mark Berman is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/637717652?pwd=ZW92MDYwN3NYUGtyWHJtQW1BRXlQQT09 Meeting ID: 637 717 652 Password: 008615