Choir looking on the bright side of COVID

%28Lyss+Vanvleet%2C+Chloe+Brokering%2C+Sharfa+Hossain%2C+Miguel+Medrano%2C+Elijah+Tafoya%2C+Kaiden+Tafoya%2C+Noah+Cox%29

Alexis

(Lyss Vanvleet, Chloe Brokering, Sharfa Hossain, Miguel Medrano, Elijah Tafoya, Kaiden Tafoya, Noah Cox)

Alexis Ray, Reporter

COVID has affected every activity here at MHS, and the music department has had to make just as many modifications as the sports teams so they can practice and perform all while retaining a positive attitude along the way. 

Choir Director, Monica Phillips, explains that they have had to make some accommodations for her class this year and how this year is anything but normal. 

Masks are mandatory. Since masks make it harder to sing and hear other people’s voices, they’ve had to adjust. Students have had to adjust the way they breathe, how to clearly pronounce their words through the masks. Another obstacle is that class sizes are down, so the Choir is smaller.

They’ve also had to adjust because of state restrictions which say they can only sing for 30 minutes at a time which is difficult in a 90 minute class period. Once they’ve sung for 30 minutes they have to leave the side room where they sing and work on other assignments for that class. But they can split up those 30 minutes however they like within the 90 minutes. 

“Everything about singing as a group is about matching your consonance and your vowels so they sound exactly the same and that’s kinda hard to do when you can’t see anybody’s mouth. And what you’re doing with the mask is moving the sound straight to your ears,” Phillips said. 

Which in turn also can cause students to sound louder than they really are. However, students are hopeful that next year COVID restrictions will be lifted and things can go back to normal.

“If we ever are able to take the masks off that will be a huge help,” junior, Kaiden Tafoya said.

Masks have definitely been a major, and at first difficult adjustment for students.

“Trying to sing through a mask was much harder than I thought it would be. You can’t get a sufficient amount of air and you really have to exaggerate your words in order for an audience to understand what you’re trying to say,” junior, Miguel Medrano said. 

Despite all the adjustments and complications the choir had to face, they had their only concert Tuesday, April 13th at 6:00pm. They performed at Grace Church. They anticipated a smaller audience which is why the normal venue of the Pavilion was changed. Grace Church was also gracious enough to let them use their facility free of charge. Even so, having an event was a big deal for them and was better than having nothing.

“It was such a humongous change and in the grand scheme of things I think it was just more of a thing of getting used to everything again. There were some advantages and disadvantages to it. It really helped us work more independently and get to learn our part ourselves rather than relying on other people. But a disadvantage was definitely not being together,” junior, Elijah Tafoya said.

With all the unknown factors in play, the choir is not planning on a concert but Vocal Effect, the acapella group, will be singing the National Anthem for the Senior awards that’s on May 12th. 

Then both High Frequency and Vocal Effect performed at a lunch-in at Montrose Christian Church on Tuesday, May 4th. They do monthly lunch-in for the senior citizens and they invited them to go sing during third hour.

Since this year has been so focused on COVID regulations and rules, choir was also not able to go on their usual field trips either. But there’s still optimism for next year to improve and be better.

“I wish I could change a lot of things but the one I would want to change the most would be being able to go on field trips. Before I was in Vocal Effect, I heard a lot about how great all the trips were and how they were life changing experiences and I don’t think I’ll ever get to experience them,” Medrano said.

The hope to be back to “normal” for Ms.Phillips is so they can schedule concerts. In a typical year they usually have 3-4 concerts at the pavilion and sometimes a competition in the fall and spring for the acapella group. 

“I’m looking forward to performing more next year. We all had to work twice as hard and I hope we can keep that mentality going into the next year too,” Kaiden Tafoya said.

Choir students are looking on the bright side about next year and are crossing their fingers to be able to have future performances and events.

“I’m looking forward to being a role model to any new Vocal Effect members and showing them the ropes when it comes to being an advanced vocal student. I’d like to share my knowledge and experiences to assist future singers to do what I couldn’t,” Medrano said.