For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, all choral groups have begun to sing in person during their rehearsals. The Center for Disease Control and Department of Health recently revised their guidelines, allowing Music Department Chair Timothy Ho to finally lead his students in vocal exercises, he said.
“On Monday, students hummed and then did some normal warmups,” music instructor Dr. Amir Khosrowpour said. “This is the first time we heard singing. It was kind of a big moment.”
While choral groups are allowed to sing, there will not be an immediate return to normal rehearsals. “We have to balance our excitement of singing in person with everyone’s apprehension about doing it,” Ho said. “[We are] assessing our comfort level and then taking slow baby steps to getting back to there.”
To enforce social distancing, Concert Glee Club has been divided into groups based on voice parts. There were similar adjustments for the Treble Choir, Piper Wallace (11) said. “Usually, we would have class in the regular choir room, but now we do it in Gross Theater so we can all sit socially distanced.”
Before the restrictions on singing were lifted, Khosrowpour and Ho had to change their lesson plans to ensure a unique form of student participation. For example, the teachers organized a lesson plan that allowed students to analyze the language of the pieces they had worked on, Ho said. During online school, students recorded themselves singing and shared their work with a vocal coach, who listened to each submission and provided feedback, Khosrowpour said.
Despite these revised class plans, the former restrictions on singing drastically affected class dynamics. “The whole point of choir is that you can allow other people to be able to blend, fix your annunciation, and the sound of your voice to match up with other people,” Wallace said.
The new change allowed students in Concert Glee Club to return to the way they practiced before the pandemic, Jared Contant (10) said. “We go in, we stretch, we do the same warm ups that we have been doing for years,” he said. “This is the first time we went through that regimen, and it’s the first time we could sing in over a year.”
The return of in-person singing has made students more hopeful about the end of pandemic, Contant said. “[Singing] marked for us a return to normalcy because it is something that we have become so accustomed to,” he said. “Just the prospect that we are one step closer to being able to sing for real people is really great.”