Performing arts responds to challenges of COVID-19, implements new changes

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The flute section moves in formation together during rehearsal. They practice their music and the moves at the same time, putting it together with the rest of the band. Social distancing is enforced as much as possible.

Emily Carlisle

The past seven months have proven a challenge for the entire world. But in spite of it all, performing arts groups at this school have continued to work toward performances. While social distancing protocols have changed how the arts program functions, students still manage to make music together. 

Freshman Grace Hammett said that this experience is definitely different than she expected her introduction to marching band to be. 

Hammett said via email, “Everyone talks about the feeling of performing at Grand Nationals and the feeling you get performing at Lucas Oil Stadium. At the beginning I thought I was fine without competition season but when I realized how much work I put in and the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into learning how to march, I’m really frustrated that we won’t have competition.” 

Junior Ayaan Abassi looks up as he sings in his New Edition class. Abassi says he does not notice much of a difference between this year and the last and does not mind the new protocols.

Ayaan Abbasi, member of New Edition and junior, said the choir program is doing pretty well with the new procedures. 

He said via email, “The safety measures that the directors have put into choir classes are pretty similar to the ones we have at school, like being six feet apart and wearing masks at all times. One difference would be that of our performance schedule and things like that as everything is incredibly tentative at the moment, and another would be certain things in performances, such as partner dancing, are not being allowed. Due to hybrid scheduling, we’re unable to rehearse as a full group every other day. I think that choir is doing a good job of staying safe. Within this time, it’s incredibly hard to successfully do something the way it’s been done in the past. With what they directors have been handed, they’re managing to keep the old and mix it with new, creative ideas to maintain that sense of normalcy that all of us want.”

Hammett said she agreed with Abbasi and added, “I think the band program is doing great at trying to give us a good year despite the pandemic. Just like any other (activity), we have to modify some rules but I never feel uncomfortable and the band directors are trying their best to keep us safe. The (students in) marching band  are trying their best because we want our season to continue. In the concert band we go above and beyond in safety measures and do more than is recommended. I feel the band program is sometimes safer than the classrooms.”

Seniors Abby Mysogland, Gabriella Zalam, and and Cora Lucas look at their sheet music as they sing along to the music. The entire choir is required to keep
their masks on while they sing and maintain social distancing. (unknown)

Students are not the only ones left trying to adapt to what this year has brought. Director of choirs, Kathrine Kouns said it is difficult for performing arts during this time due to the nature of the activity. 

Kouns said, “It’s challenging right now because the nature of performing arts is performing for an audience. And that’s exactly where we’re running into problems because we can’t really have an audience in the auditorium.

“The other big limitation that we have is copyright because we always have the copyright permissions to be able to perform live, but for recording and streaming there are a whole other set of copyright requirements. So we are trying to get all the permissions for that as well.” 

Abbasi said the choir program does have some performance opportunities lined up. 

Abbasi said, “In October, we’re planning on holding a concert-type event in which each choir will come in at a different time of the day to record their respective numbers that they’ve been working on in class. We, as students, are still not one hundred percent  sure about what exactly it will look like. It won’t be a live performance necessarily, but it’s a way for us to show the work that we’ve been doing in the first few months of school.”

Kouns also mentioned plans for a possible modified version of one of Carmel Choirs’ biggest events, Holiday Spectacular.

She said, “We are in the process of trying to make some interesting plans for a version of Holiday Spectacular. That will be very different than it’s ever looked before.” 

Despite the changes to the marching band’s schedule, Hammett said she is thankful for the opportunity to work with the band at all, 

“I’m grateful the band program put in so much effort to make this year happen,” she said.  “When my eighth grade year was cut short the only thing I missed was the community of band. I missed the sarcasm and the hardworking nature of the class. I was nervous coming into this year having to build new relationships and moving on from something that I had stayed the same for three years. But the upperclassmen and directors made you feel welcome and filled the void I had this summer.”

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