Choir class copes with remote learning

By Arei Swain and Drew Lovell

Michael Villanueve

Choir class has always been interactive for students, with concerts and competitions. However, the class has not been that way recently due to Covid-19. The virtual school environment has forced the choir department to adapt and change the way that the class runs as a whole to still keep its usual interactive nature and collaborative culture.

Junior Michael Villenueve is a choir member and has expressed his discontent with the way the class has had to change due to the pandemic and online learning. According to Villenueve, the biggest issue is the extremely limited ability to work with others, something that’s imperative in such a synchronization-oriented class. 

“There’s not really a good solution right now because online, it just doesn’t work; you can’t sing in an ensemble because of course on Zoom there’s a delay.. and of course a bunch of other technical issues could happen,” Villenueve said.

Having class over Zoom has caused difficulties in many subjects, however, as Villenueve said, the way choir runs makes Zoom classes especially challenging. 

Senior Abby Simcox is also concerned about the challenges that are presented.  She sees how it affects the vocalists’ abilities to sing during class and the content they are restricted to.

“We are not doing a lot of vocal work together. We do our warm ups usually with our microphones off,” Simcox said. “Other than that we have not been singing, we have been learning a lot of voice practice. So it has been a little challenging.”

Choir teacher Benjamin Henri has a different perspective on the challenges of a virtual choir class, but still sees the same issues as Villeneuve and Simcox.

I would say to direct choir, as in conduct in the way that you’re used to, it’s pretty much impossible, because of the lag (on Zoom calls). And there’s no way to really rehearse in any setting where I can hear the students,” Henri said. 

Henri not only focuses on the content 0f the class, but the personal side as well. He feels one of the most challenging parts of not having class in person is not being able to really connect with the students and see how they are feeling mentally and emotionally. 

Villeneuve says that another issue remote learning has caused the class to run into is that they are not able to have concerts as they normally would. 

“…Hopefully we can get in some concert in person before the end of the year, whether it’s a spring concert or just something for the seniors will be determined but I’m very optimistic,” Villenueve said.  

Even though the choir does not have a concert planned, Henri feels the class has done as much as they can in order to showcase their work and efforts throughout these unprecedented times. In order to showcase some of the choir’s work this year, Henri and Villenueve created a compilation for Christmas of the choir singing in various videos. These videos were sent in by the students of them singing different parts of the song and it was later put all together with the work of Villenueve and Henri. 

Henri says that although the video is very polished and looks to have been made easily, the production of it was a very tedious process.

“What they don’t see is the amount of effort and hard work that the students put in beforehand, so the video looks very professional and polished and behind the scenes,” Henri said.  “You have hours of work from ninth graders who never knew the song, and have hours of work from me in class, working with the students and then the classes as a whole.”