Schools are still shut down across the globe due to the current global pandemic, COVID-19, resulting in virtual classes for students to learn safely at home. Valencia High School’s choir found this news particularly upsetting at first, since choirs are supposed to sing together as a group. Mrs. Christine Tavarees-Mocha, VHS’ choral director, decided to figure out a way for the choir to sing together despite physical separation, to fix the quarantine blues.
The goal of choir is to learn songs and sing along with others, which is still possible amid current circumstances. Utilizing Zoom, an app that allows for classes to video call, Mrs.Mocha has continued teaching the choir choral pieces. Assigning student conductors to assist in teaching each musical part, the VHS’ choir has made great progress using teamwork to learn their pieces, which they will one day perform.
While experimenting in this new virtual world, Mrs. Mocha helped put together an online video of the choir singing together. VHS’ Two n’ Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble recorded themselves singing “Refugee,” a song written by Mrs. Mocha herself. Their individual parts were recorded and edited together to create the harmonious online piece. It was a great success, showing that this process is good to use for other choirs when their pieces are finalized.
One sure thing that the choir misses, besides missing their classmates, is performing. Performances were a significant part of VHS’ choral program, and a joyous experience for all. Therefore, Mrs. Mocha has decided to allow students to prepare their own pieces and perform them in “The Choir-in-Teeny Concert Series.” The VHS Choir has acknowledged that if they cannot showcase their talents at school anymore, what’s important is for them to do so at home, and be versatile in their abilities. Without selective auditions like usual, the choir is now free to do what they love to do from home, still with an audience.
Currently, VHS choirs are learning the piece, “Afternoon on a Hill,” written by Edna St. Vincent Millay and arranged by Eric William Barnum. This specific song is special to the students and teacher, because it “symbolizes the growth of [the students] over their high school years,” as Mrs. Mocha interprets it. One valuable lesson this virus has taught people is to not take things for granted, in consideration for high school seniors who had their last semester taken away from them. The lyrics state “I will touch a hundred flowers, but not pick one,” almost as if talking about teachers meeting hundreds of amazing students during their career, but see them leave to go on with their futures.
Although COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on many communities and has caused various programs to be cut short, people recognize that alternative methods can be used to try and receive the full experience of their activities. VHS’ choir is very grateful to be lucky enough to hold wonderful concerts while still safely distancing themselves. Hopefully, the choir will soon be able to perform live with everyone physically together again.
Jasmine Jhun, Grade 9
Valencia High School