A New Era for Choral Singing: Outdoors with Megaphones and Microphones

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Choral singing is one of the most effective ways to spread COVID-19. That reality hit EMS hard, a place where singing together has been core to building community for more than 100 years.

But Jared Stutzman, choral director, and student singers are not letting COVID get them down. “I continue to be amazed and grateful at the level of choral singing we are able to do this year with our outdoor microphone/sound system setup,” says Stutzman after eight weeks of in person school.

Eighth grade choir, Junior Choir and the newly named Touring Choir (formerly Senior Choir), have been gathering spaced apart in the auditorium and moving outdoors as weather permits for singing.

Using megaphones and microphones, they are not just singing, they are practicing all the skills of well-honed choirs by responding to director dynamics, listening to one another, and blending.

“That this works as well as it does is a tribute to the skill and perseverance of (y)our students,” wrote Stutzman in a recent letter to Touring Choir parents. “They (and I) have had to relearn entirely how to listen to each other through a sound system, how to modulate and balance their voices through a microphone, how to tune to each other. Many singing techniques and rules of thumb that work indoors are reversed outside, and it can be very counter-intuitive. But they are making music at a high level and making the best of this opportunity.”

Stutzman invited the parents, and faculty and staff to a performance, weather permitting, on the early evening of Nov. 3. Guests will sit in pre-marked distanced boxes left over from the musical performance.

Come to “enjoy a choral reprieve from election day news,” invited Stutzman.

“I’m sure the opportunity to hear our students sing will indeed be balm to the soul,” said Justin King, high school principal. “We are so grateful for the time we’ve had together so far this year, the way outdoor singing is working, and the ingenuity and professionalism of our music teachers.”

Listen to the choir sing You Are My Refuge, by Michael John Trotta.

See a video of them singing an arrangement of We Shall Overcome filmed from the upper floor of the building.

Check out some more photos from this story

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