Choir in the Age of Online Learning
November 7, 2020
With the hallways empty and everyone online, Pottsgrove choir students are left in a silent world when their passion is to fill the open space with music.
Music throughout time has had the purpose of bringing people together. Stories from around the world have emerged showing that during this pandemic, people have turned to music to connect with members of their community. There was a prime example of this phenomena in Italy when citizens were singing together from their balconies. In a time where it is hazardous to be physically close to one another, the Pottsgrove choir has had a strange new sensation. The deafening silence of a class that was once filled with singing has highlighted the many differences between in person and virtual choir.
Choir involves a large amount of collaboration between students and that is a hard concept to maintain in a virtual setting. Allison Palmer is a Pottsgrove High School senior who has been in choir for a substantially long amount of time. Allison Palmer has noticed this challenging part of online learning and states, “Online choir is very different to in person choir, the director can’t tell if we are singing correct notes or not. It’s a lot harder because we aren’t able to blend as well as when we are in person, we won’t truly know what we sound like until we record the videos and put them all together.” Choir students have not actually heard one another sing in a group since in person classes were halted in March. In May of the last school year, when Pottsgrove High School had an asynchronous schedule, choir students had to individually record themselves singing and the videos were blended together to be published for the Spring Choir Concert. With Zoom calls, during this year’s synchronous learning, choir students are seen to be singing but are not heard by their peers. This presents as a very unorthodox circumstance for choir students and makes virtual learning a predicament.
Like every other Pottsgrove student and faculty member, the choir has tried its best to gain a sense of normality in this offbeat time period. The choir still does vocal warm ups, practices songs that are going to be performed, and elected choral officers, as they did pre-COVID. However, Sarah Fritshaffer, Pottsgrove’s choir teacher, decided to try to bring fun into this now hushed classroom. When Mrs. Fritshaffer was asked her thoughts on online choir, she said, “Where to begin…choir online has been many things and has been a true test of creativity and flexibility. Not hearing the sounds of my students’ voices singing together in harmony has been the most shattering part about our virtual world, but I feel as though our community has remained intact. Student leadership is at an all time high with student officers running warm ups and public relations and section leaders running rehearsals on days A and D. We are hosting Open Mic during Friday “F Days” in order to allow for some more creative outlets for performance with video and live zoom performances.” The open mics are available to any choir students who want to participate. The students can participate by either pre-recording the song they would like presented in front of the class or perform it live on the Zoom call. This is a fun activity to actually hear the talents of the choir members shine. The choir is making the best of this troubled time and fingers are crossed in hopes that November will bring a verdict that will allow students back in the building by December and will allow students proceed with in-person choir practices and performances.