BVH choir returns to campus for rehearsals

Bonita+Vista+High+Sound+Unlimited+students+stand+in+the+soccer+field+on+Wednesday%2C+Feb.+24.+This+was+the+group%27s+first+in-person+rehearsal+this+school+year.

Lucia Rivera

Bonita Vista High Sound Unlimited students stand in the soccer field on Wednesday, Feb. 24. This was the group’s first in-person rehearsal this school year.

Lucia Rivera, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Bonita Vista High (BVH) choir students returned to on-campus rehearsal, which took place on the soccer field with various safety protocols implemented for the first time since the pandemic closed down activities. 

Sound Unlimited members attended the first rehearsal standing at least six feet apart and wearing masks, after going through a health screening upon their arrival to the campus. Before being authorized to attend, however, students also had to receive a negative COVID-19 test and fill out paperwork. 

“Our District VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) Director, Jeff Kover, announced to us near the end of last semester that we would be cleared to rehearse together in-person in small groups. It involved communication between our administrative team, Mr. Kover, myself, our parents, and our students. Once we communicated with one another and I submitted paperwork for permission to rehearse on campus, we were cleared to go!” Vocal Music Director Michael Klein said.

While it was optional for members to attend, about half did according to Assistant Director of Sound Unlimited and junior, Rosie Beardmore. Following Sound Unlimited, BVH Music Machine held their first practice on Thursday, Feb. 25. Both choirs currently meet in groups of 14.

“Yesterday [Feb. 24], at practice it was so nice to have that feeling of being all united and being together again. Being able to teach [team members] and correct any issues and answer questions was so nice,” Beardmore said. “Everybody was super excited and super happy to just see other people and be able to rehearse together.”

“It was so nice to have that feeling of being all united and being together again.””

— Assistant Director of Sound Unlimited and junior Rosie Beardmore

While Sound Unlimited is not currently able to participate in their usual competitive festival season, they are still rehearsing song and dance sequences. At their first in-person rehearsal they practiced the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked, and choreography by Music Machine Dance Captain and senior Sierra Hahn to “Lost in Japan” by Shawn Mendes. Klein described the rehearsal content, including “stretching and warming up, vocal warm-ups [and] working on choreography” as similar to what choir students did in a usual year. 

“I can only see [so much of] what everybody’s doing on such a small screen. When you have everybody there [in-person], you can see ‘Oh yeah, this is what you might need to fix’ or ‘This is what you’re doing great,’” Beardmore said. “It was just so nice.”

Beardmore expressed no concern about adhering to the safety protocols during rehearsals. In addition, tech members, who handle the technical parts of choir performances, each use their own materials instead of sharing. Klein remains 20 feet away from students so that he can meet with multiple groups throughout the week.

“I think we all recognize that singing and dancing together in-person as groups is an incredible gift. None of us will ever take it for granted again. Because of this, we all understood what the protocols were and how to follow them in order to make sure we can continue doing this,” Klein said.

Beardmore hopes for more students to join rehearsals in the future, something that could happen in the near future as Kover had approved for choir students to meet in person in groups of up to 30. Until then, however, Music Machine and Sound Unlimited will continue rehearsing on alternate days.

Tech students like Co-Tech Leader and senior Kayley Tucci are currently practicing with Sound Unlimited despite working with both groups. While only four tech students attended the first rehearsal, Tucci knew immediately that she would attend. 

“[Choir is] one of the things that I look forward to most in my own curriculum. So as soon as they said, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re opening up in person cohorts’ I knew I wanted to go there, if not, just for myself, but also to make sure that we managed and helped out our own section,” Tucci said.  “There’s lots of things that go with being a backstage tech and the new people don’t really know what those are so it’s important that there’s somebody there to help them.”

Virtually, Tucci taught her fellow techs through a lot of “hypothetical” situations and explanations, but expressed her hopes to one day be able to return inside Bolles Theater. Despite the challenges that come with being a tech leader for the first time while in a pandemic, Tucci was excited by the first rehearsal.

“It’s been hard on the performers especially because some people are so restricted in their houses in terms of singing and being able to move around in their rooms,” Tucci said.. “Actually having the space to do that was I’m sure really good for them.”

Similarly, Klein felt “overjoyed” during the first rehearsal as he “missed seeing students in-person and coaching them on singing and dancing.” Those attending the biweekly rehearsals are overall excited to return, while having hopes of more going forward.

“It was nice to actually be back and do things, even if it was just on their soccer field. I mean, you can still see the theater and you can see our storage units,” Tucci said. “We’re not too bummed about it. I think that it’s going to be an enjoyable experience no matter what.”

This piece was updated on March 4, 2021.