Calling all musicians: bring comfort to a family with a lullaby

A cellist records her performance on a laptop

As a part of the National Symphony Orchestra’s Sound Health programming, the NSO is inviting musicians from across Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia to participate in The Lullaby Hour. This volunteer project focuses on supporting children and families at the intersection of music and wellness, through sharing traditional lullabies, meditations and calming music for patients, families and others at Children’s National Hospital.

Rolling Deadlines

  • February 15, 2021: To be included in the March Lullaby Hour series
  • March 15, 2021: To be included in the April Lullaby Hour series
  • April 15, 2021 : To be included in the May Lullaby Hour series

Video Guidelines

A phone on a tripod records a violinist

Song Selection

  • A lullaby, calming or soothing piece, appropriate for children 0–18 and their families
  • Songs can be an original composition or an existing piece of music
  • All music and lyrics must be secular in nature
  • We encourage selections in different languages and from all cultural backgrounds

Recording Parameters

  • Target duration 2–5 minutes
  • Do not edit video submissions
  • Please be mindful of your video background and attire

Please use the following script as a greeting for your video:

Hi, my name is _______/ we are _________. The song I/we would like to share with you is called ____________.

[Include one or two sentences about this song selection, e.g. this is a song my mother used to sing to me when…]

Thank you for allowing me/us to play you into bedtime, I/we enjoyed visiting with you!

A woman monitors a violin performance on a phone, television, laptop, and iPad

File Delivery

  1. Please name each file with the format SONG TITLE by NAME/GROUP
  2. Upload all files using this Dropbox link.
  3. Complete this form for each video submission.

Tips for Audio and Video Recording at Home

A violinist in blue holds her bow above her instrument
  1. Recording Source: Feel free to use a laptop, phone, or any recording device you are comfortable with, as long as you are familiar with recording video on that device, are able to follow the guidelines below, and you can preview your recording before uploading to the Dropbox link provided.
  2. Audio: Make sure you are close to your computer or phone when talking. Any device will not capture good audio if there is strong background noise (wind/crowds) or if you are shooting from across the room.
  3. Video: The camera should be level with your eyes. This usually means getting your device up higher than it would normally be while on a desk or in your hands. If using a phone, prop it up so that the shot stays steady and the phone is as level as you can get it. If you must handhold, use both hands to grip your phone in a horizontal orientation and keep your elbows close to your body.
  4. Tap to Focus and Expose: On an iPhone, tap the object on the screen that you want to focus on and expose well. On a computer, the camera will generally do this for you.
  5. Don’t Go Vertical: While an iPhone is naturally held vertically in our hands as a phone, please shoot your video horizontally for the purposes of this project.
  6. Zoom in with Your Feet: When you zoom with your iPhone the image becomes more pixelated and less clear. Instead of using the zoom on the camera, walk closer to your camera or subject.
  7. Light It Up: Make sure that there is enough light to see your subject well. Try to use a well-lit room without harsh shadows. A balanced amount of light on you and the background will look better than a shot with an extremely bright or dark background. Feel free to use extra light sources to achieve an even exposure. Avoid having a window in only half of the shot if possible.
  8. Shooting: Try to look directly at the camera when speaking. Make sure you are not too close or being cut off by the edges of the shot but also make sure there is not additional awkward space that doesn’t have to be there. Think about the background. Try to be no farther than one arm-span away
    from the camera in most cases. Do not crop the video after you have recorded it.
  9. Review Your Video: Please be sure to double check the video file before uploading. If you hear audio distortion or clipping because of your audio source being too loud, try moving the phone, computer, or microphone a little farther away. If it is difficult to hear you when listening back to the
    video, try moving closer to the phone or mic.
  10. Upload Full-Resolution: Emailing or texting iPhone video before uploading it significantly reduces the quality and should be avoided.

For questions about this project, send the National Symphony Orchestra a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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