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CTHS choir learns valuable lessons from virtual concerts

 CTHS choir students rehearse If you want to get better at something, the key is to practice -- and this holds especially true during a pandemic.

For choir, band and other group activities, the arrival of the pandemic marked a change not only in performances, but rehearsals. After creating two concerts virtually this year, the Cherokee Trail High School choir has worked hard to perfect the process of making and sharing music. Choir directors Aaron Jaramillo and Paige Lewkow shared some of the ways they’ve helped students stay safe during rehearsals as they celebrated the recent “release” of their spring concert, which has a musical theatre theme.

“Musical theatre repertoire is very versatile and challenges our students vocally in many ways,” Jaramillo said. “Our students have stepped up to this challenge and shown tremendous resilience. Given the challenges of separate cohorts that may not all have a tenor, the students are putting in the work to do what they love: sing.”

“Rehearsing safely was a key part of this year’s work,” added Lewkow. “I am lucky to work with these incredible kids and share in their passion for music.”

From physical distance and masks to waiting for the HVAC to cycle out, student rehearsals looked very different than in years past. Despite these challenges, staff and students have learned a number of lessons. Staff members have learned how to use programs like Final Cut Pro and Logic to put concerts together while sharing online resources like MusicTheory.net. Jaramillo and Lewkow also work to make sure students feel connected and supported.

Crosley and Larson are choir students at CTHS Emma Larson, a senior at CTHS and president of the choir council, said it was a unique experience to navigate the safety protocols but that she was grateful for the chance to keep singing. She and her fellow singers submit practice tracks so directors can see how students are progressing, and she has learned a level of self-sufficiency that she did not expect.

“I am able to navigate music by myself in ways I never thought imaginable,” Larson said. “While there have been some struggles, specifically not having as much guidance to learn a piece as we usually would and having to do things in a much shorter time, I think the sense of community within the Cherokee Trail Choir Program is more alive than it has ever been.”

Larson shared that being in choir has changed her life, encouraging her to push herself to become better. She hopes to become a music teacher one day. Choir has given her something to work towards and she loves how the program includes people with all levels of interest in singing. 

Ny’asia Crosley is a senior at CTHS and is grateful to Lewkow and Jaramillo for all their hard work in creating an engaging concert. She feels there’s an incredible responsibility placed on the choir directors and is appreciative of their hard work. She also has grown through this experience, citing a greater emphasis on self-responsibility.

“I have to be the one to critique myself because our directors can’t easily give us feedback,” Crosley said. “It has been challenging recording songs rather than singing in person, but I stay focused on how I can get better.”

Crosley shared that the choir program feels more like a family, with students from ninth to twelfth grade working to support each other. Coming together to do something that they all love is an incredible experience, especially when they’re working toward a shared goal of improvement.

“In the past two years, we’ve attended more festivals and had more All State singers than ever before,” Crosley said. “I am especially impressed by how much we've accomplished. The best part: There's still so much to do!”

 

Posted 3/29/21.