The DCC found creative ways to adapt to the circumstances resulting from COVID-19. When schools in the US closed, the DCC music staff worked very hard to produce excellent online content to make choir social and accessible. With a quick turnaround, DCC’s programming was adapted to “DCC Learning Centers.” Through online learning portals created specifically for DCC singers, youth had a resource for musicianship skills development during remote times when schools were forced to discontinue in-person learning.
Exercises for sight reading, rhythm, and pitch were available, as well as song recordings, for the children to continue to build their repertoire. Participants were encouraged to engage socially as well as academically, to foster both social and musicianship growth. These online learning centers provide a formal platform to involve singers on both an education level, through music instruction, and on a social engagement level.
Over the summer months of 2020, the staff brainstormed and came up with a plan to offer the most diverse and exciting curriculum they could conceive of to meet the needs of our precious DCC singers that were sequestered in their rooms. Below is our proud list of DCC Enrichment Courses:
• Multiple musicianship/sightreading/theory classes for all levels
• “Jazz and Race in America”
• 4 unique vocal technique classes including beginning pedagogy, classical, and jazz
• 3 songwriting courses from beginner, advanced, and one on the blues
• Guest Artist Art Jones, Founder and Chair Emeritus of The Spirituals Project, led a class called “The Wisdom of the Spirituals”
• Los Mocochetes (local Xicana Funk band) led a class about Mexican Music
• An up-and-coming jazz artist from New York, Sammy Rae, graced us with a mini performance followed by a Q&A session for our singers.
• “The Harmony of Children” – a class that provided a safe space for our singers to listen to and share honestly with each other about the topic of race in order to bridge gaps, deepen compassion, and demonstrate what it means to be in true harmony with others. PhD psychologist, Christine Chao helped facilitate this discussion.
In addition, DCC music staff gave individual lessons to singers who needed more time rehearsing songs beyond our weekly group rehearsals and made sure that all singers in every ensemble were able to participate in the virtual songs that they rehearsed each week. Many of our singers did not have the means or ability to make videos on their own. DCC, following CDC protocol, scheduled video sessions at our office, and at times went to singers’ homes to make the videos.
All ensembles met weekly on Zoom and produced over 40 virtual choral productions culminating in a holiday and spring concert. Denver7’s Lisa Hidalgo Emceed both of our virtual Songs of the Season and Harmony of Children concerts.
Our very first virtual choir project was our most special. We gathered our 115 online singers and 40 of our amazing alums to produce “In This Very Room”. This song is special to all of our singers as it closes our annual holiday concert. The fall of 2020 made the song more meaningful because everyone was “in their very own room” to make the video. If you have not viewed this production, please take 4 minutes to do so. Bring tissue!
DCC Music Director, Lisa Cameron, sent this note to our families at the height of the pandemic:
“The Choir is busy rehearsing each week…online! We have a very enthusiastic group of singers. I have to say, online learning and teaching is a more intense experience than rehearsing in person! However, the joy of seeing our singers engage with each other each week, hearing their voices on recordings and on videos, listening to their suggestions on how to make a rehearsal run smoothly, and the amount that they care about getting their assignments and notes correctly, make it all worthwhile.”