Story by Kahlen Miao
Photo by Sophie Yeung
The SPHS performing arts programs have embraced the difficulties of distance learning by taking advantage of the online format in creative ways.
Coronavirus pandemic safety restrictions have confined students to their homes and computer screens, which makes it impossible for those in drama to perform on a live stage. Instead, classes have focused on smaller details such as fine tuning their accents and postures, which may not have previously been emphasized.
“Social distancing has helped me [to] really focus on the minor details that make all the difference in scenes,” sophomore Veronica Koutsky said. “With less distractions that come in the form of props and blocking, I can devote my attention completely to my scene partner and my facial expressions.”
The choir program has also taken a similar approach, as students have been improving their sight-reading, music theory, and production skills instead of singing as a big group. Students have been working on individual recordings which they will compile and edit to create a virtual concert, helping to foster a sense of community that so many high schoolers are currently missing in distance learning.
“It’s refreshing to have a class that isn’t 100 percent focused on academics. It gives us a bit of a break and we can feel a little more comfortable with each other,” freshman Lillian Sherman said. “I feel like I’m getting to know my [choir] classmates, even if it’s just a little, and that isn’t something I’m doing in my other classes.”
Although there is no marching band season this year, the band program has begun using apps such as “Upbeat” to mix together students’ individually recorded music to mimic a complete in-person performance. Instrument sections have also used breakout rooms so students can continue to bond and practice together.
The drama program will perform The Tragedy of Macbeth in a socially-distanced setting in early 2021 and is hosting auditions over Zoom on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 13 and 14. The arts classes’ roles of fostering creativity in the often rigid school day has grown even more significant during distance learning.
“As teachers we have to understand that we’re not teaching in the exact same way [right now],” drama teacher Nick Hoffa said. “It is so important for us to give the students a bit of a different experience than they would have in their normal everyday lives and I believe that’s true with the arts generally, but even more so now.”