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Choir department adjusts to COVID-19 and new director

Boman Fine Arts Center is the new location for Choir practices, allowing students to social distance while continuing their passions.

Like other departments this fall, Waldorf’s choir department has been faced with the challenge of applying COVID-19 restrictions to their ongoing schedules.

The choir has also welcomed a new director, Emilie Bertram, who oversees the three Waldorf choir groups, each one ranging from about 11-16 to sixteen people.

The students have been practicing in the Boman Fine Arts Center (BFAC) and have been keeping their distance with two to three rows of seats in between.

One of the hardest challenges throughout this time has been the separation changes within the social dynamics of how the singers hear one another and even themselves.

“The singers feel far more vulnerable in small groups, separated from each other by distance,” Bertram said. “They’re used to preforming with a large ensemble, standing near each other, feeling safety in numbers.”

According to Waldorf student and alto singer Melissa Olson, the choir meets at the BFAC twice a week and have procedures for entering and exiting the building.

In order to prevent cross contamination, choir students are enter by walking upstairs to go through the top back doors and later exiting at the main entrance located on the lower level.

Voice lessons now take place in either the recital hall or BFAC booth with 30-minute breaks in between.

“Like other departments the choir director is also having her students use online tools to help assist with rehearsals,” Olson said.

When Waldorf’s COVID-19 status was orange, Bertram had her students meet online to minimize contact.

The department has also been livestreaming their rehearsals for students who cannot attend rehearsals to be able to watch from a safe location.

When the smaller groups can meet individually, they limit the amount of time spent by no more than 30 minutes.

“Singing is considered a super-spreading activity, so therefore, we must take extra precaution in order to continue participating in our art form,” Bertram said.

As the director, this has been a challenge for Bertram, forcing her to change her previous methods of interacting with her singers from more physical and visual learning styles to one of her last-resort methods: being more verbal and thoroughly explaining things to her students.

Although COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the fine arts community, there have been positives that have come out of the situation, thanks to the new adjustments this school year.

“I believe the most important thing to remember is the process is more important than the product,” Bertram said. “COVID is challenging our art form, but we will innovate, adjust, and continue to make music.”