These two music videos and audio recording are just a few of the results of a successful switch to distance learning for the Music 160 performance class
By Dave Block ’93
Students in Music 160, the Chamber Singers, sing “My Very Own” by Susan LaBarr and “Lullaby” by Daniel Elder in the two videos below, which include images of the students, the Lafayette campus, and more. In addition, seniors Lindsay Altschuler, Emily Emick, Ryan Fainor, and Matthew Schuman sing the Alma Mater in an audio recording.
The other singers in the class are Tyler Abbott, Ian Anderson, Graham Armknecht, Sarah Candido, Peter Canevari, Evan Corn, Celine Lawrence, Carlito Maca, Garrett Mansfield, Ansh Mishra, Anastacia Negron, Thalia Newman, Connor O’Neill, Katie Rice, Shreya Rudrapatna, Caroline Sabin, Makayla Schmid, Nicolette Sonmez, Cassandra Warrener, Matthew White, Dolce Whitwell, Lizzy Winter, and Dominic Zhang.
“When COVID-19 dictated that we move to remote learning, the question arose, ‘Could we still have choir?’” says Music 160 teacher Jennifer Kelly, associate professor of music and director of the arts. “The students said they wanted to sing—and sing together.”
Technology didn’t make it possible for the students to sing together simultaneously from their homes. However, the class used a free cross-platform app to sing and work collaboratively.
“From around the country, our students met every week in small group sections and as a full ensemble,” says Kelly. “They learned new skills, discovered the similarities, and embraced the differences between the in-person and remote choral ensemble. They were questioners, risk-takers, leaders, and collaborators.”
This was not a “virtual choir” made up of individual performances, Kelly explains. The creative process involved collaborative listening and response, somewhere between the experience of a live concert and that of a solo recording. Kelly was struck by the similarities of process and learning with the normal in-person performance class.
“It was definitely challenging to record and refine these pieces,” says Fainor. “Performing a choral piece is a dynamic collaboration in real time that feeds off shared energy. Singing is as much listening to those around you as it is staying on your own part. What makes the remote format most challenging, then, is creating a blended sound with the other singers even though we were each recording miles apart and asynchronously. Using three steps for each piece—drafting, review, and revision—we were still able to create a sense of collaboration and deliver a genuine performance.”
“We finished our final class and played our ‘concert’ via Zoom,” says Kelly. “It was a meaningful performance for the students, and I am tremendously proud of all of them.”
“Overall, I’m very happy with the final concert we were able to assemble, which is a reflection of how dedicated the Chamber Singers is as a group,” adds Fainor. “We wanted to deliver something meaningful at the end of this semester, and I think we achieved that.”