Basically, I am writing this because I miss all of you. Everyone has been dealing with COVID-19 in various ways and when it comes to Choir and singing, or Musical Theater and acting, we have not had many options. There was a massive amount of research done since March 2020, from our national music and theater groups, to our local groups, regarding transmission of the virus, ventilation in the classrooms and overall activities based on speeches, singing and projection of the voice.
All school districts make their own local decision, for the betterment of their students. Jones Public Schools and I made the difficult decision that for now, singing or stage performance was not putting our students in the safest environment possible. It was not an easy decision, as both above named co-curricular classes are “performance-based”.
What this means is we have numerous short-term and long-term goals that all pertain to an end-result performance of some kind. First semester is our busiest time for our performances, to name a few: Old Timers Day, Veterans Day, Homecoming, Fall Concert and numerous local, regional and state honor group auditions. Agreeing with the decisions that were made and for the safety of our students, staff and community, these activities as far as the students performing, have had to take a temporary back seat or were cancelled.
The students have been AMAZING at understanding the whys, and for that I say, “You guys rock”! It is not easy to come to school with certain expectations, then not being able to achieve them. In place of our performance rehearsals, we have incorporated numerous classroom and online activities and resources that involve music theory, music history, piano study, studying different musical genres and having online singing drills for the students to work on, record and submit to me from home. We have tried singing outside, singing individually in a large, more well-ventilated areas (gym or commons) and this has been effective as I said, for individuals or in pairs, but not in groups of any size. When learning scenes, choreography and lines for our stage production of “Sister Act”, we have been masked and do our best to keep social distancing. All these parameters are new and constricting in what we have learned as far as deep breathing, projection and being heard from the audience’s perspective. As I have said a lot this year, “It is what it is”.
The main reason I am writing this is to tell you that I appreciate the continued support that the community has given the Choir and Musical Theater programs. Regarding tomorrow and what it holds for our performances, we are trying to plan into the future as best we can, not knowing what parameters will be in front of us. We do know that “one day” we will be back to normal, but what that normal will look like no one knows.
Please continue to encourage our Choir and Musical Theater students to engage at home, keep the skills we have learned fresh and anew, so that when COVID-19 does take a back seat, we will not have lost the years of building our musical foundation and can pick up and forge full steam ahead with our singing and acting goals.
As I said, thank you. In retrospect, this community loves and supports the arts. The track record of successful performances, All-State students, scholarship and honor group members speaks for itself and will return one day soon. Stay positive, stay safe and remember that I am here for the students and their overall education.