Choir Adjusts to Outdoor Learning Obstacles

Choir teacher Mark Roberts leads the Campo choir in a socially distant, outdoor rehearsal.

With hybrid students returning to campus, choir classes have had to adjust to the new norm of practicing in-person once more. However, COVID-19 guidelines have forced their rehearsals outdoors.

Choir director Mark Roberts found the decision to keep choirs outdoors “frustrating.” “As of when we started hybrid, they didn’t permit indoor singing… it’s unique to our state. I have friends all over the country who direct choirs and they’ve been indoors… California was more… cautious,” Roberts said.

Being back in hybrid, having in-person choir is “100% better than online learning” for Roberts because in distance learning, choir members would sing muted while Roberts played the piano or would sing.

Roberts said, “I just have to assume they’re singing along and then they would send me a recording. So for a lot of my students, it was a really cathartic experience when we finally got to come back together and sing, because they hadn’t heard other people’s voices live singing in a choir for over a year.”

However, rehearsing outside means that the choirs must endure the weather and other issues. Bel Canto and Chamber singer senior Shannon Crosby has participated in outdoor choir practice in different types of weather.

“Sometimes it’s really cold or rainy so that’s never fun, but…it’s not something we can’t adapt to. And sometimes it’s super windy so it’s hard to hear each other but otherwise it’s fine…When it’s sunny it’s actually really nice to be outside because it’s warm and beautiful and I’d rather be outside than inside anyway,” Crosby added.

Roberts said, “When you’re outdoors, the lawn mower’s going, or a delivery truck comes, or some community member is walking their dog through campus, and there can be lots of both noise distractions and also visual distractions…It can be very difficult to focus the group.”

With this in mind, the choir will “hopefully” be able to move practice indoors the week of April 12th, according to Roberts.

Even though there are challenges with outdoor practice, choir members continue to have positive attitudes. “Practicing outdoors is better than practicing on Zoom any day. Just being in person and together is one of the best parts of choir, so we don’t care if it’s cold or raining, at least we’re together…and we can hear each other sing,” said Crosby.

For some students staying in distance learning, the experience is also enjoyed. Women’s Ensemble member sophomore Abbey Inzeo finds the choir practicing outside is beneficial to her in distance learning, as well.

Inezo said, “With [the choir practicing] outside in comparison to Zoom, you are able to hear others singing instead of Mr. Roberts or just the accompaniment, which is welcomed in comparison to singing into the void…It greatly improves my experience.”