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Trojan News: COVID-19 caused changes for WHS choir

Ms. Johnson and a few choir students shared their experience of this year.

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WORTHINGTON — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes in all the music programs within District 518. The choir has faced many challenges, as singers are required to wear masks at all times.

All students are required to wear their masks in school and while it may be annoying when sitting in class, it’s really annoying while singing in choir. This requirement is set in place so that students and staff are protected.

Kerry Johnson, the choir director at WHS, fully believes that wearing masks is important.

“Well, I absolutely believe in science, so I am 100% behind the data that shows that wearing masks keeps numbers down, keeps infection rates low,” she said. “I completely support mask wearing because of that.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states, “Singing or playing wind and brass instruments can generate respiratory droplets and aerosols that may contain the COVID-19 virus if a person is infected.”

To keep students and teachers safe, guidelines have been made for the choir that are being followed in order to continue to rehearse as a class. The choir no longer holds their rehearsals in the choir room at the high school due to little spacing between each student. Johnson explained what she does in order to continue to rehearse with her class.

“Singing could be done reasonably safely if every singer had a six-foot perimeter around them and that they were all wearing masks and then they were only singing for 30 minutes at a time and that we were allowing air exchange to take place. We’re able to do most of those things by rehearsing at the (Memorial) Auditorium,” she said.

Although the choir is able to rehearse as a big group, the choir is facing individual challenges. During this tough time, singing together has become a challenge for the students as they have been isolated from each for almost a year. This made singing as a group difficult.

“I think the biggest challenge is that any time you create art or you create music, those things are so dependent on interpersonal relationships,” shared Johnson.

Even though the students are facing this challenge in singing together once again, they are pushing through and making their rehearsals worthwhile. Ben Schreiber, a freshmen in varsity choir shared his experience during COVID time.

“One of the challenges would be having to stand six feet apart when singing in rehearsals because that way you can’t hear the whole entire choir, you have to rely on your own voice but in doing that it makes you a stronger character, makes you a stronger voice because you are able to be more self-dependent,” he said.

Tanner Gundermann, a sophomore in concert choir shared his experience in wearing masks during rehearsals.

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“It’s definitely different,” he said. “It’s harder to sing a little bit because it’s harder to breathe, but you get used to it after a while, just like you get used to talking and you know, going to school all the time with them.”

Johnson and the choir are grateful to have the auditorium as their temporary rehearsal space. They continue to follow guidelines to rehearse during this time. The choir continues to push through the challenges of having to be apart and be together as a whole.

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