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Choirs Shift Focus to Keep on Singing

GNSGNS photo

Choir at GNS has started off strong this year, and while things have been adapted to follow COVID-19 regulations, groups have been busy developing their vocal talent.  In both the Middle and Senior School choirs, changes have been made to ensure the Learning Groups are spaced apart from each other in the choir room. In the Junior School, students have been singing only within their Learning Groups.  One of the biggest—and hardest—changes made this year is the indefinite postponement of live performances. However, they have been recording their performances instead.  “It’s a different experience, but I’m really glad we still get an opportunity to do something,” explained Ms. Amanda Chaval, Choral Director. “It feels different because the students know if they make a mistake we can just do another take, where in a live performance that wouldn’t be the case. As a music teacher, you teach if you make a mistake while performing you just keep going.” This year, the Middle and Senior School choirs pre-recorded the anthems for the Remembrance Day assemblies. Now, they are starting to get pieces ready for the Carol Service, even though it is still undecided on how that will look. With all of the choir performances being recorded, Ms. Chaval says it offers some great opportunities to the students.  “We can’t perform live, but it’s nice to take the pressure off of always preparing for a concert, and focus on the base-foundation of music,” said Ms. Chaval. “Being able to sing well, good breath support and the technique. But also sight-reading, theory and music notation to make sure they are well-rounded musicians. When live performances do come back I think this is a great year to focus on different things.”  Throughout the year, focusing on the basics of choir will be key in the Middle and Senior School. It involves a lot of warmups, getting to know their voices, blending, and singing in a choir.  “Choir is what we say, one voice,” said Ms. Chaval. “You don’t want individual voices sticking out where you can hear a person. It should be a nice blended sound. At a young age that is hard to achieve so we work on that, and a lot of range.”  In the Junior School, Mr. Conlan Flynn has been going to each class to teach music. In past years the grades would be mixed for choir, but this year they have to be kept separate.  “Right now we are working on a Winter Concert video to celebrate different traditions that happen in December, so we are focusing on that until December,” said Mr. Flynn. “We are also working on connecting with Units of Inquiry in classes.”  Through Friday Morning Online and the Remembrance Day Assembly, Mr. Flynn has also worked with students on singing the National Anthem and GNS school song.  “Right now, it’s just developing and we are trying to get the students singing as much as possible, and continuing the program,” added Mr. Flynn.