Mask mandate not stopping music from being made

Tara Goff, Staff Writer

As teachers are all adjust to the new normal this year, those in the performing arts department face more difficulties than ever, struggling to bring live performances in a safe manner for both students and audience members. Chorus teacher Elizabeth Williams is navigating the unprecedented times by coming up with modified performance regulations.

When school had still been fully virtual, class went on pretty much as usual. Students were still expected to complete music theory lessons and were assessed on the material using online platforms, in addition to summative recordings on their assigned music. Mrs. Williams would lead warm-ups and sing different voice parts, and students were expected to sing along with her with their microphones muted.

Despite her persistence during online school, Mrs. Williams says she is excited to have everyone back in the classroom. What she missed most was “the dynamic of everyone singing together and the personalities and interaction. When mics are muted, I am the one doing all the talking and I missed the collaboration.”

Mrs. Williams has distanced chairs throughout four rows of risers to ensure proper distance between singers.
Photo by: Tara Goff

New rules in the classroom have been put in place for safety, including distanced chairs that are sanitized between each class period. There is even a limit to only 25 minutes of singing per class period, while the rest of the time is devoted to music theory, piano scales, and any questions students may have. During performances, audience members will get temperature checks before entering the auditorium, will be expected to follow “one-way” aisles in and out of the auditorium, and will be dismissed by row. Hand-sanitizing stations will be installed in the lobby and there will be no intermission or concessions. As for the singers themselves, each class will leave after they perform and will wait in separate holding areas than other classes. If live performances are not permitted, students will perform on live streams or prerecorded performances will be distributed for viewing.

Mrs. Williams is trying to create an active learning environment for all students, including those who have opted out of in-person school for the remainder of the semester. These students will continue to do their theory lessons and will be given solos to work on and perform in a recital for the other chorus classes.

In regard to safety measures at the school, Mrs. Williams says she is “very confident in the protocols that were put in place and feel that our students and staff are doing a really good job of adhering to them.” Rachel Kong, junior member of chamber chorus, agrees that appropriate safety measures are being taken. “We’re all a pretty decent distance from each other,” she says. “Mrs. Williams is also really good at enforcing the mask rule.”

For more information on COVID-19 impacting the arts department, read Savannah’s article on band and orchestra’s plans for the upcoming school year.