Bakersfield College Choirs have found new ways to rehearse and perform during the pandemic

The Bakersfield Choirs rehearsing through Zoom while holding up inspirational quotes.

Teresa Balmori, Reporter

The Bakersfield College Choirs have adapted to a safe and virtual environment while still being able to rehearse and perform in an outdoor setting with safety precautions.
The BC choirs have decided to begin their semester through Zoom due to the high cases of COVID in Kern County. However, they are planning to meet in person for rehearsals this spring semester. “We will begin with each section coming in to meet with me in the Outdoor Theatre. This will include about 8 people or less at a time,” according to Jennifer Garrett, the choir director at BC. “Each of us must do the health questionnaire and be approved to come onto campus.” To insure the safety of the students temperature checks are required before anyone enters the rehearsal, Garrett explained. “I even prop open all of the doors so that no one has to touch a door and everyone uses hand sanitizer anytime they come out of the building.”
It has been a challenge to conduct during the pandemic due to not being able to hear how the person is pronouncing their vowels or the tone of their voice because people are not side by side, Garrett explained. They have also had problems using Zoom. “ We all are well aware, the latency on Zoom makes it impossible for us to unmute and sing. It is utter chaos,” Garrett said. “ This can be quite discouraging and unfulfilling to someone who signed up for a choral or instrumental music experience.”
Despite all the challenges through conducting a choir online, it has been surprising how the students have dedicated themselves to continuing to make music and finding ways to share music with each other, Garrett explained. “Music is a big part of who we are and to not have that avenue of expression has caused many to suffer from significant depression and anxiety,” Garrett stated.
As for adapting to conduct in a virtual environment, Garrett explained that students were able to put together a virtual concert entitled “Becoming Us.” The virtual concert premiered on YouTube Premium on Nov. 30, 2020. The students were able to do this by prerecorded music through their phones and through the engineering software, Logic Pro X. They then filmed the concert at the BC Outdoor Theater, Hart Park, and through pictures of students holding up inspirational signs all while socially distancing, Garrett stated.
According to Professor Garrett, the choirs will be doing a virtual concert on May 15 at 7 p.m. The concert will be named “Of Things That Matter Most” and will premiere on YouTube Premium. “ This concert will be a little different than the last concert,” Garrett stated. “We are rehearsing over Zoom and also in small groups, socially distant in the Outdoor Theatre.”
Professor Garrett explained that she is grateful for her students that continue to share their talents with other students and the world. She hopes that they will continue to lift each other through any challenges they face. Garrett looks forward to seeing more people join their choir for the fall semester of 2021.
For more information on the BC Choirs, students can email professor Garrett, or one can go to the BC website and look for any events or additional information. Students can also go to their YouTube page, “Bakersfield College Choirs” for any live or prerecorded performances.