This summer, the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir (FWCC) hosted its inaugural virtual Choralfest [summer day camp]. Our summer intern and FWCC alumnus, Sangeeta Reddy, sat down with Apprentice Choir director, Susan LaCroix, to discuss her experiences teaching, connecting, and singing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sangeeta Reddy: What did your Choralfest day look like?
Susan LaCroix: My Choralfest day started at 9:30 am. I logged into Zoom and immediately began scanning the Zoom squares during the combined rehearsal for all of my new singers. I then participated in the rehearsal to be a good Zoom example. At 10:00 am we were “sent” to our breakout rooms where I could work directly with Apprentice Choir. I started with feedback on their participation and reviewed Mr. Busarow’s singing plan. My rehearsal was very similar to a “normal” Choralfest rehearsal, except a little shorter. I also included glockenspiel instruction, which I would really like to add into our Choralfest anyways! We ended our rehearsal with a song game that included our accompanist, Mrs. Coulter.
Sangeeta: What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of teaching virtually?
Susan: The most challenging part was not being able to actually hear the choir sing together; I really don’t know how the Apprentice Choir sounds. The most rewarding was enjoying being able to interact with the singers personally and seeing each face RIGHT in front of my face. I was thankful that they were a small choir!
Sangeeta: How is the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir fulfilling its mission of teaching music literacy to children from diverse backgrounds through song and performance?
Susan: Teaching music literacy was still able to happen as usual, just the performance was different. Instead of singing together on the Foellinger Outdoor Theatre stage, Apprentice Choir singers had to submit a recording of themselves singing “Kids Are Music”, the song we worked on all week. Mr. Busarow and Ms. Bird will work to combine all of those videos into a virtual choir!
Sangeeta: Are there things that make virtual teaching more effective?
Susan: Yes! For Apprentice choir, which is composed our youngest singers, it was easier for them to truly listen to me. Shortened teaching time also encourages me to focus on the most important elements of singing.
Sangeeta: What resources are you using?
Susan: I am still using my ‘tried and true’ materials, which I use for in-person rehearsals. I am also using Zoom and the Musicplay platform.
Sangeeta: What have you learned about yourself as a teacher in this environment?
Susan: I still don’t like seeing myself on camera! But really, I have learned that I also need my students. I will still teach in a way that makes them and me feel as though we are together.
Sangeeta: What are you learning from your students?
Susan: They are very tech savvy, they really want to be together, and they want to sing!
The Fort Wayne Children’s Choir teaches music literacy to children from diverse backgrounds through song and performance. For more information visit fwcchoir.org.