classrooms Student Arts

How CHS Band, Choir, and Theater Are Operating Remotely

This year, extracurricular activities and elective classes are online just like all other classes. Questions were raised about how Camas High School would continue classes, such as choir, band, and theatre remotely. Creating props at home, memorizing songs through videos, and discussing what makes someone a good musician have all become the new norm for these classes. 

With the loss of in-person learning due to COVID-19, it has been harder for band, choir, and theatre to practice for the classes to connect.

Students and teachers have both been impacted by remote learning, but being able to adapt to the challenges will make the classes better when in-person learning resumes. 

Courtesy of Dylan Bohannon.

CHS Drama teacher Sean Kelly said, “We focus on lifting each other and supporting one another and taking risks”. 

Kelly is mainly focusing on his students connecting instead of focusing on the content part of his class. Students get to be more creative because they are in a place where they feel comfortable instead of anxious about how others might see them.

The music and drama department have been doing their best to make these classes feel as normal and connected as possible. Choir teacher Ethan Chessin and CHS orchestra and band director Richard Mancini have attended conferences to see what other teacher’s approaches are to online learning. Kelly interacts with teachers online to see what they do to teach drama. 

Mancini has been leading his band students in sectionals and conducts with everyone on mute so students can follow along.

Each year Mancini shares his “Sweet 17” which are life lesson quotes.

He recently got the okay for orchestra and percussion students to start practicing in person. The only catch is that there can only be 6 players together at a time. Before a student goes into the school for practice they have to have their temperature taken and answer health questions to ensure no one does not have any symptoms.

CHS student at home orchestra setting
Courtesy of Garrett Newby.

Kelly has been teaching his classes the same basic way he would if it was in-person classes.

CHS student, Garrett Newby said, ” he wants to create a safe and comfortable environment for his students.”

He added, “Because of remote learning, we can’t get together and build a set for a show.”

Since the stagecraft teams have been unable to create sets together, they have resorted to making small versions of them at home.

Other classes have found new ways to do what they would during in-person.

CHS Senior Dylan Bohannon said, “We had an assignment recently where Mr. Chessin sang various lyrics and verses. Using a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), we had to reassemble his singing into an entirely new song” 

Another CHS student Makayla Duff said, “We all don’t really bond other than on the way to concerts, that’s our biggest time to bond. Now that we are in Covid we haven’t been able to all get to know each other, it’s very weird.”

This is a common sentiment from most people in those classes. The lack of the social aspect has made it difficult for everyone this year. Remote learning has provided some drastic changes but has led the way for new opportunities and experiences.

There are no plans for any live performances but Kelly is finding different ways for students to perform. He plans to release a comedy series that students write and act in. 

Chessin said, “You get out of it what you put into in”.

Camasonian journalists Annika Nordwell and Madison Palek contributed to this article.

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