It’s 2020, the year of uncertainty, and so much in life is looking different. Everything is lacking normalcy, and a big part of that is because us students are not in regular in person school. This school year has made me realize how much I miss my in person chorus class.
I have been singing in a choir since I was in fifth grade. Many of my best memories at school have happened in chorus class. I have met so many friends and have had so many amazing experiences because of it. Some of these experiences include singing with people from all over the world, participating in workshops with famous conductors, and even performing at Disney World alongside students from all over the country and Neil Patrick Harris. I’ve experienced the feeling of deep connection while singing in a large group, the joy of standing on stage and performing, the tiny bit of nervousness you get before you go on, and the unmatchable feeling of finishing a song and realizing that your hard work has paid off.
Sadly, this year, we don’t get to experience many of these feelings. In a typical in person chorus class, the students would all settle into class, stretch, maybe do some yoga, then run through a fun vocal warm up and then start learning our music. Learning music is always enjoyable. We break out into sectionals and write solfege in our music. Solfege is when you write the names of the notes you sing in your music score. Then eventually, when we are ready, we sing along. This may sound like a lot of work. but in the present moment while we’re doing it, it’s not. Since we all love to sing, it doesn’t necessarily feel like work to us. We bond with our peers in our ensemble, who then turn into our friends. We have a lot of fun in chorus.
South Lakes Chorus member, junior Harshini Venkat, said, “I love the chorus program because it is different from my other classes, it gives me a chance to get up from my desk and sing with the people I love.” Getting out of your seat and away from a desk is a big part of chorus class. We get to do fun activities such as acting and dancing workshops, yoga classes, and POUND fitness classes.
Online chorus class is very different. Chorus is a course that is very hands-on. so it is a lot harder online. We now settle into Blackboard Collaborate class and check in with each other to make sure we are all doing well. Then, we will usually watch a video or two. We watch one for stretching, and one for warming up our voices. All of our sheet music and tracks are uploaded to Google Classroom, which is a huge part of how we learn it.
During class, chorus teacher Mrs. Gigliotti will play the piano and we will sing along to it. Unfortunately, we have to sing alone because everyone unmuting their mic is a recipe for a loud disaster! We have also been trying out newer websites we haven’t seen as before, such as Smartmusic. Select Treble Singers Member, sophomore Abby Jamison, said, “Obviously, using Smartmusic can be difficult because it’s technology, so it is imperfect and not really the same as in person learning, but it’s still really nice to have a class where we can have fun rather than stress out.”
When it comes time for our concerts, we make virtual choirs. Last year, I was in two virtual songs that were posted. Although virtual choirs are very different, they are still an exciting and rewarding experience, just like a regular concert. Last year our virtual performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel received over 5000 views, and a lot of community praise. Singing this song at our end of year concert is a deep rooted tradition. The graduating class of that year sings the verses, and the rest of the choir chimes in during the chorus of the song. “Online school is challenging and tiring sometimes, but my attitude towards chorus has always remained the same. We still all help each other and have fun singing in class.” said junior, Kani Mirzaei, a singer in Bella Voce.
Even though this year has been full of many surprises and disappointments, chorus has always remained a constant and I am grateful for that. I know I will always have fun in chorus class whether it is in person, or virtual. We all come together and make unforgettable memories and music and inspire people along the way.