Choral Department faces obstacles during home learning transition



Candice Anvari staff writer
The Choral Department is facing new challenges as they navigate their way through virtual learning and performing. The department was supposed to have its annual end of the year concert on May 21 at the Saban Theater, but due to COVID-19, the live concert was canceled. 
As of right now, choral students are given weekly assignments that consist of students recording themselves singing pieces of music and turning in the recording for a grade. 
Vocal teacher Michael Turnblom believes the department’s main challenge during this transition to home learning has been the lack of connection students have with one another through a camera. 
“A choir is a community, so we obviously miss the family aspect of things. But, we are making due,” Turnblom said. “National choral leaders have encouraged choral directors to try to keep this community connection alive for our singers for the time when we will be able to sing together again.”  
During the first few weeks of home learning, senior Liv Berg, who is in Madrigals, found the transition to be difficult because the department had to cancel all upcoming trips and events. As of right now, she believes they are navigating the obstacles together.  
“It’s been rocky, but our teacher and leaders have been proactive and reassuring,” Berg said. 
In terms of training, sophomore Emma Mauer believes that the transition to online learning is significantly more difficult for the performing arts classes. 
“Personally, I don’t think that it has the same effect than when we’re in school. I think that we need to further our education of music,” Mauer said. “I’m in three performing arts classes, and I’ve noticed that for performing arts in particular, it’s extremely difficult to do online because there’s no way you’re going to get the same hands-on training you would in face-to-face class.” 
Mauer noticed that recordings are different for every student because some students have more advanced technology than others, making the recordings vary in quality. She also finds it difficult not to get immediate feedback. 
“I think everything in theatre, choir and dance depends on feedback to get you better, especially in choir when we’re singing in a group to create one cohesive sound,” Mauer said.  “Once we send in our music, we send it in once and that’s pretty much it. We don’t redo our recordings, so it’s difficult to improve vocally and technically when that feedback isn’t immediate like when we’re in the classroom.”  
Mauer and Berg both believe that the performance aspect of the class is an important and crucial part to the class. Turnblom is planning on incorporating performance into their online curriculum by replacing their live end of the year concert with a virtual concert. 
“We are preparing to have a virtual performance in the form of audio recordings. This is actually giving us the opportunity to explore vocal recording and music producing, which represents a major way in which vocal music exists in our real world,” Turnblom said. 
The Choral Department has not chosen a specific date for the virtual concert, but more updates regarding the platform, day and time will be available soon.