Choir Classes Adjust, Remote Learning


Anushka Srivastava

Christiana Howell, the Upper School Choral Director and teacher, leads her class over Zoom.

Anushka Srivastava, Contributing Writer

This year has undoubtedly been one of great adjustments, as teachers and students alike have had to learn new ways to continue educating and learning online. While some courses and curriculums have adapted easily to the fully remote lesson plan, others such as choir, have had to fully reinvent themselves. In talking with some choir students as well as Christiana Howell, the Upper School Choral Director and teacher, they explained how choirs have been adjusting to remote learning. 

A typical Zoom choir class consists of an attendance question, learning new pieces, and perhaps going into breakout rooms to work with classmates. Technical difficulties do make class challenging at times, but Howell remains patient, repeating herself as many times as necessary and putting directions into the chat in case of a bad connection. Zoom can also interfere if Howell is both playing piano and speaking or singing, as Zoom tends to filter out whatever it deems as “background noise”. The class and Howell generally try to power through, adjusting volume levels and using repetition to master various skills.

Pictured above is Christiana Howell’s choir class. (Anushka Srivastava)

A large and often crucial part of being in a choir is being able to sing with fellow choir members, an activity that becomes much more difficult over a glitchy Zoom call. To combat this and still provide her students with some sort of a full choir experience, Howell has been having her students submit individual recordings of themselves singing their parts in various songs, then proceeding to splice them together using a program called SoundTrap. While it isn’t quite like being in a room and hearing everyone together, it does make for a good alternative. 

Choir concerts are an integral part of class as they offer students the opportunity to bring all of their hard work to fruition and perform in front of their friends and family. While having a live concert this year is very unlikely, it’s possible that choirs might make videos of themselves singing and release them, though if that happened, it wouldn’t be before April. In the end, choir classes have been adjusting well to quarantine and figuring out the best ways to learn remotely.