Choir Innovates During Covid


Members of the Seattle Prep Choir practice during a socially distanced rehearsal.

Abby Baldwin, Freelance Writer

What happens when social distancing meets the Seattle Prep Choir? The answer: Innovation.

For the first time in as long as anyone at Seattle Prep can remember, students could not attend in-person school because of Covid. Many sports and activities were cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic. One activity that relied heavily on in person collaboration but was not postponed, was choir. One would think that choir would be severely limited, if not completely cancelled, because of the virus. However, choir was not cancelled and, in fact, utilized creativity and innovation to thrive.

Mr. Weeks the director of choir for the past two years, took a different approach to choir and introduced songwriting to the curriculum. Each student who participated in choir as an art credit, wrote a total of three songs throughout the course of the first semester. “We looked at how songs work, how to create music and lyrics, what makes lyrics good” stated Weeks, adding “I was able to pitch a Songwriting course to the school and we’re adding it next year”.

For the students who signed up for choir to sing, adding songwriting turned out to be unexpectedly fun and interesting. Senior Jane Broderson, said “We’ve been focusing a lot on songwriting this year, especially at the beginning when we were all virtual. I’ve loved getting to explore that side of music and I hope that Mr. Weeks keeps that aspect of the course even when COVID ends”.

In addition to the new songwriting component, Weeks also had to craft a plan so the choir could sing in 2020-2021. In the beginning of the year the students were able to sing virtually over zoom and when school partially returned the classes met in person, although in smaller cohorts. Although there were logistical challenges, they didn’t seem to dampen the choir students’ enthusiasm.

Sophomore Alex Ruelos, talked about how Choir is more than just singing and song writing: “My favorite part about being in choir is not only getting the excuse to sing and song write, but also getting to know new people and forming new friendships. Everyone in window choir is so welcoming, funny, and such a great group of people to be surrounded by (even if it’s on zoom). And as a result, I have built friendships and got to know a lot more of my peers.”

For the winter concert Weeks had the students record themselves singing individually and he mixed the voices together for the performance. This was not ideal but, like adding the song writing curriculum, Weeks was able to use innovation when confronted with the obstacles that Covid presented.

UPDATE: The choir will hold a live concert on Monday May 10th at 7PM – it is only open in-person to families of choir students but there will be a streaming link available for anyone else to livestream the event.