From dining rooms and living rooms, basements and bedrooms, 48 voices blend together in harmony.
Schools may be closed, but the Grade 9-12 students in Evan Hardy Collegiate's choir are remaining connected to music and each other through a video performance of the song Connected, a performance knitted together from vocals each choir member recorded while at home.
"I was thinking so much about having them keep singing and making music as that's so good for mental health. Thankfully, we had been working on Connected at school," said Evan Hardy music director Stacey Mortenson-Spokes. "We would sing it in a huge circle in the theatre at the end of our rehearsals with the idea that our circle was connected, and we were one."
The idea for the video originated shortly after schools closed on March 20 due to the COVIND-19 pandemic. Mortenson-Spokes was seeking a fun and happy project for students to focus on and she had seen similar videos posted by other music educators.
"They (choir members) were all very excited at first, but I have to admit there were a few that need extra nudges," she said. "Recording yourself singing for four minutes is very daunting, even for extroverted teens, and this group has many introverts. I am so proud of all of them!"
The "quarantine choir's" performance of the song by composer Brian Tate features a cappella vocals, snapping fingers, and clapping hands. Although students were familiar with the song, the choir practiced together virtually during classes conducted via Zoom. Students had headphones and sang to a recording, but because their voices had to be muted to address the audio lag over Zoom, Mortensen-Spokes could only watch their mouths move soundlessly.
Once it was time to perform, each student recorded their part on their phones or computer and then submitted it to the choir's Google classroom. The job of putting it altogether was done by one of the choir members, a Grade 12 student who volunteered for the task of combining 48 voices and then synching the video and audio to produce the finished product.
The video begins with the voices and images of six students. It grows by seven more voices, swells to a total of 35, and finally all of the students come together on the screen in song.
Students watched the finished video together during a recent class conducted over Zoom. As their teacher, Mortenson-Spokes said the reaction was exciting to watch.
"I don't think they realized how great it would sound and look. They were beaming and so excited to share what they were a part of," she said. "While they were watching, I was scrolling through their faces and I was covered in goosebumps. I knew this was going to be a huge task, but it's been worth every minute — and nudge."
The reaction from students and parents to the project has been gratifying. Their enthusiastic response also underscores the importance and benefits of music to the lives of students, particularly during this difficult time.
"I always cry," Mortenson-Spokes said. "I love making music with kids and I am often full of prideful tears. The parents are over the moon. I have had many thank yous from parents who have been worried about their child's mental health through this (pandemic). Nothing releases those happy brain chemicals like making music and feeling like you are still part of a community. Music is magical for that!"