As someone who is heavily involved in Mashpee Middle-High School’s music program, I can honestly say the pandemic has greatly impacted the way in which our choir classes are being run. Before, we were able to prepare choral pieces, hold concerts and freely sing inside the classroom, but now all of that has changed. I honestly feel music is a very large part of who I am as a person, and being able to express myself musically at school is something that truly means so much to me. Having a group of people whom I can connect with through music and share my passions with is something so special, and I am so grateful that I have been able to experience such love and support throughout my high school career. Due to public health regulations, in music not only do we have to follow the same social distancing and mask rules but we also cannot sing together. Because of the large expulsions of breath while singing and the potential of spreading COVID-19, we cannot sing inside the classroom while others are around. This is what would prevent us from continuing doing all of the things that make choir class what it is, or so we had thought.
Going into this school year as a senior, I was very thankful I was going to be given the opportunity to continue participating in the music program, but I was unsure of how it would work. This is the first year I have been able to work with our new choir director, Ms. Mills. I was very much looking forward to seeing how it was she planned on taking on such a big challenge. Due to the amount of effort she put in to ensure we are able to enjoy this year and to continue making music despite such unfortunate circumstances, the choir program has been successful in continuing our output of music. I am extremely grateful to her for all she has done thus far to allow myself and my peers to express ourselves through music during such a difficult time, so I’d like to say thank you. It has been her wonderful ideas and hard work that have brought us to where we are now.
As of now, although we are not doing choral pieces as we have in the past, we are still preparing musical pieces for others to enjoy. We cannot sing in groups, so all of our pieces thus far have been solos. And because we are unable to perform live in front of an audience for now, we have been posting videos of our music on YouTube so that the community is able to see them. Now you might be wondering how is it we are able to record our music and our videos. Let me explain. In our choir room there is the main classroom space that holds the desks and such, and off that room are two separate practice rooms. Ms. Mills worked very hard to turn each of these rooms into separate recording spaces. They are both set up like actual recording studios with equipment and computers, allowing us to feel as though we are in a professional setting. And when we go into these recording spaces alone, we are able to take off our masks and sing freely. This is how we conduct the recording process, and Ms. Mills is kind enough to edit all of the students’ solo performances. She has been very thorough in teaching us how to use the equipment and computer program properly so that we will be able to continue this process smoothly.
After our recordings are finished and edited, we then go into the video recording process. Ms. Mills has been working very hard to find new ways to record our videos to make them look more professional, but even the videos we have done so far have actually been quite good. So far how we have been doing it is by using our teacher’s personal camera and going into one of these recording rooms, which also have tapestries set up on the walls, and we videotape ourselves lip syncing to our prerecorded songs. Lip syncing allows us to shoot the videos as many times as we want without having to worry about the quality of the song. It also gives us some more insight into the ways in which professional musicians record their own music videos. Most of the time we shoot our videos from two different angles. If there are harmonies, we do one recording per harmony as well as one for the melody. And once again it is Ms. Mills who edits these videos as well as posting them online. All of the videos that have been posted so far have received incredibly positive feedback, which is really amazing to see.
This process is very different from anything we have ever done before at Mashpee, but it has also been so much fun. Getting to learn all of these new things while still being able to do what I love has been so refreshing, and I am so unbelievably grateful. Although there are obvious differences, I am happy we are still singing and making music. I am extremely excited to see how the music program will progress and if we will be able to figure out a way to perform as a group by the end of the year.