Choir Conquers COVID-19

Holt Looks to Make Class as Normal as Possible Despite Pandemic

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Ally JohnPress

Lisa Holt’s 6th period in-person choir students practice social distancing during class. While the virtual choir students have to adjust to singing via zoom, in-person students have to adjust to singing in a mask. “We have tried to keep the structure of instruction as similar to our regular routine,” Holt said. “We start with vocal warm-ups, rehearse sight-reading, have social ice breakers and music games, and then end with teaching literature. We teach the in-person students as a typical choral rehearsal while those on zoom sing-along from home. The most significant difference is you can only hear the 30% who are in person.”

Kaiya Wilkinson, Reporter

Despite current challenges, the choir still manages to sing and stay safe amidst COVID-19. Senior Grace Lai and freshman Aidan Cox said they are both glad that they still get to participate in choir this year, but agree that it is a bit odd.

“[Choir] is still really great, just a bit strange,” Cox said. “The social aspect I feel is one of the largest parts of choir, so having that limited this much makes it a very different experience from what it probably would have been were we fully in person.”

Choir is not able to function the same this year. However, despite the strangeness, the class still continues to go on and routines are set to keep a sense of normalcy. 

“[During class] we typically spend some time in break out rooms learning together in groups,” Lai said. “Our choir director has made us all learning tracks and we spend our time practicing and learning notes.”

According to choir director Lisa Holt, choir is still running smooth as ever. There is just one difference: she is not able to hear students on the zoom call.

“We have tried to keep the structure of instruction as similar to our regular routine,” Holt said. “We start with vocal warm-ups, rehearse sight-reading, have social ice breakers and music games, and then end with teaching literature. We teach the in-person students as a typical choral rehearsal while those on zoom sing-along from home. The most significant difference is you can only hear the 30% who are in person.”

Lai is one of the students who opted to sing from home. According to Lai, despite the fact that her whole family is home and can listen, choir practice from her room isn’t awkward at all.

“I just practice in my room,” Lai said. “I like to think of it as a little impromptu free concert for my family, they just have to put up with it.”

Though COVID has been an interesting challenge thrown choir’s way, they still have been able to qualify for many great achievements. The varsity choir has been invited to sing at the 2021 National American Choral Director’s Association Convention (ACDA).

“I was just in awe [when I found out],” Lai said. “I had the honor of going to TMEA as a sophomore and to find out that we were invited to ACDA my senior year made me feel incredibly proud of our choir.”

According to Holt, ACDA is one of the highest achievements a choir can get on the national level. Though virtually hosted, Holt believes the event will still be an amazing experience.

We will be pre-recording our concert here in Austin (with masks and socially distanced) and broadcast the recording nationwide in March,” Holt said. “We also have the exciting news of commissioning a new choral piece by internationally recognized composer John Mackey.”

Just as the national convention will be held virtually, so will the annual choir concerts. The organization has found a way to have their concerts while also being safe. According to Holt, students submitted individual recordings singing their part, and then the directors edited them together digitally into a virtual choir set to air today on the choir’s YouTube channel.

“I’m feeling pretty good about [the upcoming concert],” Cox said. “It’s a bit tough to keep track of all the deadlines and such for turning in recordings of our songs, but I’m feeling good.”

Not only is their virtual concert coming up soon, but also another fun choir thing you should tune in to. Pitch Black Saves Christmas: World Tour will come out tomorrow on the choir’s YouTube channel. This will be not just singing by the amazing Pitch Black singers, but it is also formatted as a sit-com rather than a stage show performance. One of these performers is Victor Martinez who is excited about the upcoming show.

“I’m really happy that we still get to get together and out this show together this year,” Martinez said. “It’s my first year in pitch black, but I’ve been having a great time putting together the music and the script for the show.”

The performance will follow the story of the singers helping Santa by delivering presents because Santa himself is at high risk for COVID-19. Not only will it be full of fun songs, but it should also bring a few laughs.

“It’s super fun and there are a lot of cool songs,” Martinez said. “I hope it’s something that can bring people a laugh during this really unusual holiday season.”