Behind the curtains

VMD continues to rehearse despite challenges in distance learning


Provided by Sophia Frary

Dance co-captain Sierra Hahn demonstrates a pose for the Vocal Music Department over Zoom. Everyone including director Michael Klein must have their microphones off during class time.

Ingrid Alcantara, Videographer

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, concerts, parties and performances were cancelled. As we now enter our ninth month in quarantine, the Bonita Vista High (BVH) Vocal Music Department (VMD) is one of the groups adapting to this lifestyle. VMD has multiple ensembles that play a part in their numerous productions of the year such as Music Machine, Sound Unlimited, Lady Tones and their own tech team. 

During VMD’s zoom classes, performers can be found warming up and working on their vocal technique and dance while also learning new music. VMD Music Director Michael Klein has been surprised by the lack of changes that have occurred to the way that the VMD normally practices. 

“It’s been surprising to me how much hasn’t changed,” Klein said. “It’s our job to make excellent art that our audiences can enjoy. The only things that have changed are the ways we make those goals happen.”

Klein stated that he constantly tells VMD students “how mistakes should be celebrated.” He stated that VMD also applies the same concept to distance learning. The environment that VMD has created is accepting and constantly adapting to their circumstances.  

On the other hand, dance Co-Captain of Music Machine and senior Sierra Hahn said “There have been a lot of changes from our regular routine in person,” when asked about any changes in their usual routine. “I miss being all together and performing as a group. It is really hard to connect with one another and feel that connection with dancing since it is all through a screen now.”

VMD Director Michael Klein shows Music Machine students in period 4 how to edit sound. He was using the virtual Adobe Audition program. (Provided by Sophia Frary)

While practicing, the team must have their microphones on mute so Hahn cannot tell when someone is out of pitch or how well their voices blend together. 

“It is a lot easier to do the dancing components than the singing ones since you can see people dancing on the screen, but you can’t hear anything,” Hahn said.

Alternatively, Hahn has stated that there has been more time for working and perfecting technique than if students were back in school. Previously, they would be more focused on perfecting their choreography. 

At the same time, the most distinct type of work in VMD goes to the students in the tech department. One of the two-tech leaders and junior, Sophia Frary explains how difficult it is to replicate the tech’s work through a screen. 

“We could teach them [the freshmen] how to work lights or use the sound board, but trying to teach or understand something without even being able to touch it is hopeless,” Frary said. “On the bright side, we’ve been able to get to know each other a little so that when we go back we’ll be able to skip introductions.”

Overall, VMD has been determined and hard-working despite the circumstances that arose this semester. As for the future of VMD, preparation for Spring Sings, a competition they attend yearly, will begin in December or January.

“I’ve told students that we’re making music in a way no one has ever done in the history of the world. It’s both exciting and daunting,” Klein said.