Coppell choir takes on virtual performances, competitions

New+Tech+High+%40+Coppell+junior+Faiza+Rahman+practices+a+piece+in+Coppell+choir+director+Bona+Coogle%27s+seventh+period+class+on+Nov.+2.+With+COVID-19+restrictions+put+in+place+by+the+Center+for+Disease+Control%2C+choir+competitions+and+performances+have+been+held+online.

Lilly Gorman

New Tech High @ Coppell junior Faiza Rahman practices a piece in Coppell choir director Bona Coogle’s seventh period class on Nov. 2. With COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the Center for Disease Control, choir competitions and performances have been held online.

Varshitha Korrapolu, Staff Writer

Once the choir director instructed the singer to start their repertoire, unified voices would fill the room with a harmonious melody. However, COVID-19 altered this routine. The choir is adjusting to a different way of singing—with virtual performances and Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) competitions, this year’s singers are taking on new challenges.

“I was a little nervous because I didn’t understand how the virtual choir was going to work out,” New Tech @ Coppell junior Faiza Rahman said. “I was thinking [about] how we were going to have rehearsals over Zoom because not everybody can sing together at the same time. When [Coppell High School choir director Bona Coogle] told us we were having our first [virtual] rehearsal, everybody was kind of nervous not knowing what they were going into.”

With about 67 percent of Coppell students participating in distance learning, choir is one of the activities that has shifted to an online platform. However, Coogle and assistant director Aaron Coronado have ensured students transitioned to virtual choir with ease. According to Coogle, Coronado and herself tell choir students to mute themselves during classes so instruction could be given, play the music on the piano to guide the students and assign singing assignments to make sure students are on the right track. 

Recently, students from Coppell Choir participated in TMEA district auditions that were held from Oct. 10-19. This competition was modified due to the current situation. 

“Normally in TMEA rounds, they tell you you have to learn three pieces of music, and then when they go to the competition site on Saturday morning, they give them a piece of paper that has all of the cuts,” Coogle said. “So all the preparation, hard work you put in it kind of comes down to that thirty second slot. Because this was virtual, they were actually able to release the cuts early, and [TMEA] gave students three to four days to record it and submit it, so they kind of had the chance to take a look at the cuts and kind of study it and submit their best recording – so that’s something positive.” 

Twenty-eight students from Coppell Choir were able to advance to the regional level of the TMEA competition.

“The fact that we had the second highest number [of students advancing in our region] meant a lot,” Coogle said. “We told them for the next round of auditions we are going to offer a lot of one-on-one sessions so they feel more prepared. I am just very excited, and I am proud of all of them.”

According to CHS junior Alyssa Bargas, even though there are some disadvantages of competing virtually, the virtual experience has favorable aspects.

“I was really excited because this year [was] different,” Bargas said. “Usually after district, region auditions have sight reading, which is pretty difficult for me. That’s kind of what knocked me down last year. I am excited going into this year’s auditions, because knowing that we won’t have that aspect of the audition, I feel like I have more of a chance, which is pretty nice.” 

In addition, choir students think the virtual fall choir concert was also a success. Typically, Coppell Choir hosts fall and winter choir concerts every year. However, due to COVID-19, hosting an in-person concert would not be feasible. In an attempt to continue the yearly tradition, Coogle and Coronado decided to organize a virtual fall concert that was held on Oct. 23. All the choir students were asked to record their video and audio and a sound engineer merged all the videos and audios together to bring the virtual fall concert to life. 

“It was way better than I thought it would be,” Rahman said. “When I watched the video, I was really surprised how great it turned out because [the sound engineer] matched all of our voices together perfectly, and I could tell how long it took to put all those videos together because there [are] 65 people in A Cappella. It was weird hearing everybody together, because for the past month we have been rehearsing without hearing each other.”

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