TIGARD, Oreg. (KOIN) — A local musician is helping people stay connected through music. Toby Loftus has been a violist for the Newport Symphony for 15 years, but after the pandemic hit he began throwing virtual karaoke parties from his Tigard home–and now he’s sharing how you, too, can host an online party of your own.

“Since the pandemic started, I was just missing playing music and singing with others and so I thought well let me see if I can figure out a way to host karaoke parties online, and well the rest is history,” Loftus said.

Loftus will ring in the first weekend of the New Year by hosting his 18th online karaoke party. Since May, he has hosted virtual karaoke parties every two weeks. In 2020, he adds that more than 1,000 songs were performed and the longest party lasted almost six hours. Loftus said he’s had family and friends connect from as far as Europe and Taiwan.

Loftus, who also has a background in IT, said he figured out how to set up virtual karaoke through trial and error.

“At first I was documenting it for myself and my parties, so when a new person comes on– ‘Hey, here’s the tips and tricks to make it easy for you to have a good time and have a positive experience on my parties and then I thought this needs to be shared,”” he said.

To show others how they can host their own online karaoke party–with little to no cost–Loftus created a website.

“There are detailed instructions on how to host, how to find karaoke tracks, how to get the best sound out of whatever equipment you have,” he said. “I wanted to make it easy and approachable for others because I know I’m not the only karaoke fanatic out there.”

The website also provides step-by-step instructions on how to use video conferencing platforms, like Google Meet and Zoom.

Loftus says even after the pandemic, he plans to continue to host online karaoke parties. For more details on how to set up your own virtual party, check out Loftus’ website.