Quarantine has hindered our ability to learn in a myriad of ways. Some classes are more heavily affected by digital learning than others. A class that relies on human interaction the most is Choir. Choir depends on the synchronicity of several people together, which is impossible right now. Christian Brothers High School’s Director of Choral […]
Quarantine has hindered our ability to learn in a myriad of ways. Some classes are more heavily affected by digital learning than others. A class that relies on human interaction the most is Choir. Choir depends on the synchronicity of several people together, which is impossible right now.
Christian Brothers High School’s Director of Choral Music, Mr. Christian Bohm, is an accomplished singer and performer who has found professional and academic success in the chorale realm. Being in quarantine is not the ideal environment to conduct choir classes. However, Mr. Bohm is ready to overcome and persevere during this time of adversity.
Since traditional group singing is not an option at the moment, Mr. Bohm has focused class more on solos and developing each students voice and personal sound. To help students succeed in upcoming solo projects and virtual performances, Mr. Bohm says he is “taking the time now to work on breath support and tone” in preparation for what he calls a “‘Masterclass Setting’ where we watch [students] performances and we give them basically a friendly critique.”
The inability to have in person choir classes has struck a chord with Mr. Bohm, as well as other Choir students.
“I think of my choir classes as a family or as a team, and what you do for the team reflects on yourself and the team,” he says. “When one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting, when one of us has success with a solo, we all have that success.”
Although Choir classes can be somewhat replicated virtually, “there is nothing that could take the place of actual human connection, and being in the same room together,” he added.
“The biggest thing that new choir students are missing is the atmosphere of the classroom,” Emilio Ralph (‘21), a tenured member of Men’s Chorus, says. “In this you lose the camaraderie that is a big part of the classroom setting.”
Many choir traditions and activities will not be able to take place this year, for example singing happy birthday to our beloved Christian Brothers staff.
New Choir students were in for a rude and disappointing awakening when they found out that classes would take place virtually this year. Several new Choir students were eager to participate this year, but the simple fact that Choir was not going to be taught in person has severely extinguished student’s choral flames. This poses issues for students not familiar with music or music theory.
In Choir, students learn to read music and play instruments like the ukulele. However, distanced learning makes that exponentially harder. Ethan Simoes (‘21) is a first year Choir student who was eager to be “surrounded by my upperclassmen peers while fulfilling my art requirements,” but soon realized the class was going to be more difficult and bleak than expected, especially when tasked with learning how to play the ukulele.
“If we were doing Men’s Choir in person, I feel like we’d be able to learn how to play the ukulele much quicker and in the right notes,” he says. “We’d obviously be able to hear each other sing in sync since we only sing by ourselves with our microphones muted.”
Mr. Bohm has already prepared for hybrid classes if we do return to in person classes this year.
“I’m going to have a video going — a recording of the class — and I’ll be working with the class half in person and everybody else hopefully will be at home working with us.”
This partial flipped classroom approach is ideal for Choir to replicate in person classes where everyone is in the same room together. Conducting class this way helps reinforce the sense of community and family Mr. Bohm hopes to capture.
The possibility for in person classes provides opportunity for students to better their understanding of music and music theory. Mr. Bohm is going to introduce piano playing to Choir and is “going to spend some time trying to develop some keyboard theory with you guys that will enforce what your learning on your ukuleles and your music theory.”
Any opportunity Mr. Bohm has to further his students education, even during these trying times, he is going to take. Choir and all other performing arts classes Mr. Bohm teaches, are in great, capable hands this year.