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Choir and ensemble classes adapt to online learning

Layla works on a piece for ensemble with instructor Deborah Sealove. Courtesy of Layla ’22.

Because of their traditional reliance on in-person learning, the choir and ensemble programs at Marlborough are facing unique challenges with distance learning. Both choir and ensemble are using several platforms and methods to enhance distance learning and to mimic an in-person classroom setting. Additionally, the choir program is making changes this year by adjusting the overall focus of the curriculum.

In choir, classes are being conducted over zoom. According to choir instructor Angela Lin, the class is using extra resources to enhance class time. For example, choir is using the online platforms Sight Reading Factory and Flipgrid that allow the students to record themselves and practice sight-reading.

Choir student Amelia ‘23 believes that in terms of distance learning, choir has been managed as well as it possibly can.

“I feel that it is a bit tricky as a big part of choir is to see how all the harmonies and different parts match up with each other,” Amelia said. “Since we all have to be on mute, that can be hard at times because you can’t get to hear what you’ll sound like with everyone else.”

There have also been some changes to the choir curriculum this semester, including focusing more on composers and artists in the BIPOC community.

“The pieces that we’re doing are all from composers, arrangers, or editors specifically in the Black community that are teachers at colleges or conductors at professional levels,” Lin said. “We are doing music that speaks directly to present-day current events.”

Similar to last year, choir concerts will be held over zoom.

“The students will each submit their recordings so me and another adult will work on editing every file and video and audio together so it looks like 17 singers are singing all at the same time,” Lin said.

Ensemble has also adapted to online learning. According to ensemble instructor Deborah Sealove, “Last year I focused more on solo pieces rather than playing together. Now we are going ahead with chamber music which means playing altogether,” Sealove said.

Similar to choir, there has not been much change for concerts. Both classes have planned to have similar performances to those last year.

Last year the show was pre-recorded “because on a live zoom the sound can be so terrible, so this was pre-recorded on everyone’s cell phones which had better sound. Then it’ll be sent to me where all the individual parts will be all put together,” Sealove said.

Ensemble instructor Deborah Selove is proceeding optimistically and is hoping that classes will once again resume in person later this year.

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