Choirs continue to adapt to virtual setting

Sofie Zalatimo and Emily Yun

Paly Choirs Spectrum Singers opened their concert “The Song Remains the Same” on Oct. 23, 2020 with a round entitled “Coffee Cannon.” The visuals included students’ photos posing with coffee mugs from their homes and graphics displaying the song lyrics, which the directors edited to accompany the song. “Our teachers got pretty creative, and they made the videos also really interesting,” junior Rohini Bharat said. “We didn’t know we didn’t get to see it beforehand so we didn’t know exactly how it was going to look.”

As the Palo Alto High School Choirs look forward to their approaching pre-Thanksgiving performances, they reflect on adjusting to a virtual setting during their fall concert “The Song Remains the Same” late last month.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the choirs’ two performances this semester have been prerecorded on Zoom and presented through a YouTube Livestream. Throughout the performances, a wide variety of visuals were featured on the screen to accompany the songs including videos of students singing in front of virtual backgrounds in medieval costumes and graphics of adored pets.

According to Paly Choirs Director Brittney Kerby, choir students are still adjusting to many new challenges presented by the virtual setting.

“One of the biggest challenges is really the technology,” Kerby said. “Learning microphone vocal technique, how to use a green screen, how to use our new recording software — these are fundamental skills in the creation of these virtual performance videos.”

According to junior Rohini Bharat, although the choirs are still adapting to the new technology, experiencing her own concert as an audience member made the effort feel more rewarding.

“There’s a lot of different challenges but there’s a lot of things that are easier, like putting everything together is actually pretty easy,” Bharat said. “Then when you see the finished display, you’re like ‘wow,’ because you haven’t heard everyone together before.”

Before assembling the final product, students are able to pre-record their performances multiple times, which Bharat said helps to create a more cohesive final product. 

“We all have such different ideas when we’re separate,” Bharat said. “To form a group sound, we need to listen to other people, or we need to get feedback from other people. Having the chance to redo our recordings based on the feedback we got was really useful.” 

According to Kerby, the virtual setting also allows the choirs’ performances to reach a greater range of people.

“One of the unexpected positives of holding our concerts virtually is our ability to share our songs and stories with friends and families worldwide,” Kerby said. “Even if they are not in Palo Alto, they can still feel connected to us musically, that is very powerful especially during this time.”

The choirs will hold their next performance 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, on the Paly Choirs YouTube Channel.