The virus has suddenly put a halt to almost everything. Students of various educational activities have to stop even those who need to take a trip to certain places. Amusement parks like Disneyland have closed temporarily and made one wonder how much does Disneyland make a day and how much losses will it suffer since the lockdown. Singing together is a risk of contracting the coronavirus too. But the choir d’accord wien shows how vocal training can be organized responsibly.
Sample Online Choir Rehearsal with Conductor Melanie Malinka
Carrots and broccoli simmer in coconut milk, the scent of turmeric, cinnamon, and coriander rises. In mid-March, Bernadette felt lonely in her apartment. Because her choir is not allowed to rehearse and social life has frozen, she cooks Thai curry for friends from the neighborhood.
Shortly after the lockdown, however, she not only draws strength from what she has cooked herself, but also from singing. “I was motivated to practice pieces and learn texts by heart,” says the soprano, who sings with the choir d’accord wien. “It’s good to keep your vocal apparatus going.”
Singing together between chance and risk
In addition to the musical and health-promoting dimension, the pandemic primarily affects the social dimension of choir singing. The feeling of togetherness in the choir through the coordinated activity and joint appearances leads to the development of a network, new friendships, and the feeling of making a contribution to the larger community, say participants. Singing also creates emotional relief and leads to a reduction in stress, as studies have shown. In times like these important cornerstones in everyday life.
Singing together is now seen as partly responsible for the rapid spread of the virus. This is a blow not only for the professional cultural scene but also for laypeople. For some singers in amateur choirs, the choir rehearsal is the only highlight of their week. The choir leaders are aware of this responsibility, but the legal framework and above all concern for the health of the participants leave no leeway.
In an assessment of the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 viruses when singing, published by the Clinic for Audiology and Phoniatrics at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Prof. Dr. Dirk Mürbe and his co-authors that singing together should be viewed critically. “In principle, it would be possible to reduce droplets and aerosols by wearing mouth and nose protection,” it says. “Despite the minor acoustic consequences, the practicality in the artistic context is questionable.” A challenge for singing education.
Singing education online
Katja Kalmar, choir director of d’accord wien, shows how one can maintain vocal training even during the crisis. It decides to “maintain a certain structure”. During the first week of lockdown, she started rehearsals on the Internet. “It’s worth at least a try to work like this and see what comes out of it.”
The process is similar to that of physical rehearsals: after arrival, the body is warmed up and stretched, followed by singing in and practicing the pieces. The videos of up to 40 singers flicker on your screen. She accompanies on the piano and sings soprano or alto part. She mutes everyone else’s microphones.
Bernadette is happy that the community “has so seamlessly found a way to keep rehearsing”. It is a support for her to “continue to experience herself as part of the choir”.
Kalmar offers internet-based samples twice a week. “Singing can increase the motivation for a conscious lifestyle in the long term in times of lockdown.” She encourages the singers to stick with the learning plan – which ultimately bears fruit. “We learned two new pieces during the virtual rehearsals,” says the vocal teacher enthusiastically.
The biggest problem, however, is not being able to hear the sound of the choir and not being able to give specific feedback. “Over time, I didn’t know what to do anymore. Just singing through doesn’t make sense in the long run.” In order to work technically, she has to hear the choir. Therefore, another solution had to be found.