How the West Ranch Choir has adapted to distance-learning


Gaby Lesmana, A&E Editor

   As students await the return to safe in-person learning, they continue working hard to make the best of their Zoom classes. Some subjects experienced a decent transition, such as history, English and math. However, more hands-on classes had to get creative, as in the case of choir.

   Unlike most traditional academic subjects, performing arts classes like choir faced social challenges, as main activities revolve around working together. As involved as this task is in-person, distance-learning has made it especially difficult for these classes.

   The Paw Print had a chance to interview Mrs. Peters, who teaches choir at both West Ranch High School and Rancho Pico Junior High. She weighed in on her experience:

   “We tend to think of [performing arts classes] as people being togetherputting on a show or production. I really had to talk to other colleagues of mine, you know, the technology is like,  how do you create an ensemble if everybody’s alone?” she explained. “That’s the biggest thing. How do we replace, how do we build the part that’s missing right now?”

   Teachers and students alike have definitely battled with maintaining the social aspect of school while in distance-learning.

   This was one of Mrs. Peters’ main issues: “I miss my choir. I miss concerts, and I miss singing with people, and I miss being in a classroom with [everyone].”

    Mrs. Peters regularly keeps in touch with the other Hart District choir directors to share new resources for their classes. She mentioned Soundtrap, an online recording studio which the choir students use to record themselves.

   “It’s pretty great for what it costs and what we need it to do.” With the students’ individual recordings, Mrs. Peters puts them together on one track in Soundtrap, creating a “choir.” She also talks about Sight Reading Factory, a program for students to “at least try and maintain” their sight-reading skills, as well as YouTube vocal warm-up videos.

   West Ranch junior choir member Amanda Roberts explained her difficulties with the new software, “It’s a much different process with learning and recording songs.” She added that learning without support from other sections of the choir has been one of the toughest parts of distance-learning, but she makes sure to stay in contact with Mrs. Peters when she needs help.

   Unlike most academic classes, choir students build a familial-like bond through singing together.

   “One of my favorite things about choir is just the connections and relationships that are built,” Mrs. Peters told The Paw Print. “But that’s the piece that I think everybody’s missinghuman connection that isn’t people you’ve been quarantined with for seven months.”

   Mrs. Peters explained that it’s important to continue to practice and utilize music in quarantine because “your voice is always something you’re going to have.”

   Senior choir member Lili Puente commented on her adjustments to distance-learning, “I’ve had to learn to get used to trusting myself when I sing and get used to hearing my voice alone, and it’s been a definite struggle.”

   Puente expressed how much she misses singing with her fellow choir members and “getting to be around each other and having fun together.” Additionally, she misses going to class to “hear the choir as a whole.”

   Puente speaks for many choir students, and Mrs. Peters continued talking about the comfort many of them find in the class, saying, “[Choir] is hopefully a place where you can come everyday and hopefully you’re not stressing.”

   Mrs. Peters concluded, “I just think it’s important for [the students] to have a place where they know that they have the relationship with me and they have the relationship with each other. I hope it continues to be a safe place.”

   It’s uncertain when West Ranch Choir will be able to sing together in-person. With a bit of creativity and a positive attitude, students can stay safe and connected through music.

Check out the virtual choir performances Mrs. Peters has put together:

“Warrior” (Women’s Choir):

“Ukuthula” (Concert Choir):