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How to host virtual campfire nights

how to host virtual campfire nights

Keep your chorus members feeling engaged and rejuvenated. Here are five reasons why this might just be the perfect antidote to Zoom fatigue!

"Campfire Night" has become a favorite monthly Zoom activity in my two choruses, Sound Harmony and the Seattle SeaChordsmen. The structure is simple. Each chorus member brings one song suitable for singing around a campfire— any folk song, pop song, or silly kids’ song that others in the group are likely to know. Members take turns leading their song while everyone else sings along on mute.

Not sure if this will work for your chorus? Here are five reasons to give it a try:

1. Campfire is safe.

Many of us naturally get a little nervous at the thought of “soloing” in front of our chorus, but it’s impossible to get hung up on vocal perfection when you’re belting out “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” complete with hand motions, and watching your friends laughing and joyfully singing along. There’s something about campfire songs that creates a no-fail atmosphere and puts everyone in a relaxed, nostalgic, frame of mind.

2. Campfire is the antidote to Zoom-induced feelings of isolation and passivity.

Each singer gets the chance to feel individually seen, heard, and loved by the group, and everyone becomes everyone else’s cheerleader: “Frank, I was singing harmony with you on ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ and we sounded great together!”

3. Campfire takes the pressure off the director.

No special preparation is required, other than creating a simple sign up list or asking, “Who wants to go next?” Warning: Some people don’t want to be pushed into solo sing by the director or the group. Let your singers opt in or opt out.

4. Campfire celebrates the unique beauty of each voice.

This is something I realized I wasn’t doing enough in our pre-pandemic chorus rehearsals. We all look forward to the day we can ring chords again, but in the meantime we can seize this opportunity to revel in the rich variety of individual timbres that make up our ensemble sound.

5. Campfire is singing!

Now, more than ever, we need the catharsis that comes from lifting our voices in community with others. Throw in some laughter and exclamations of “I remember that song!” and you’ve got a winning activity.

If you decide to make it a regular activity, consider choosing a theme for each campfire, such as songs about the weather, a place, or a color. Google “campfire images” to find a suitable screen background, pass around the (virtual) marshmallows, and you’re ready to go!

About the Author

Elizabeth Davies is the director of Sound Harmony Chorus (SAI) and co-director, with Melanie McGuire, of the Seattle SeaChordsmen (BHS).

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of The Harmonizer.