Greenline Adapts to COVID-19 Singing Restrictions

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Toni Golston

Music teacher Max Holman conducts Greenline during Thursday’s Board of Visitor’s Day. Marlie Kass ’23 takes cues from the conductor.

As the School returns to a year of lessened COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, elective courses, such as the Upper School choir, Greenline, are much closer to normal. After last year’s virtually directed performances and challenges of hybrid learning, students are excited to return to in-person singing.

According to Greenline director Max Holman, choirs rely on matching tone, speed and diction, which requires practice and precision.

However, Holman said he has found challenges with using singers’ masks. “I think that not being able to see the shape of the mouth is really tricky,” Holman said. “You get a lot of information based on shape on lips and space between the teeth, and also demonstrating the shape of the mouth.”

Holman had to alter his teaching methods to account for these obstacles.

“We still have to take certain safety measures, such as using masks and distancing. While it can make it a bit harder to hear each other, it’s a very small price to pay for things to feel like old times again.”

— Marlie Kass '23

“Demonstrating is basically useless with masks on, you have to come up with other ways to explain to get what you desire out of students,” Holman said. “It’s also really hard to see them breathe, as we often talk about rhythm in the breathe.”

In addition to using descriptive language, students visualize vowel shapes by watching Holman’s hand gestures.

Marlie Kass ‘23 is the president of the School’s choir, returning from past years of experience at the School.

“While we couldn’t sing together in-person for most of last year due to COVID guidelines, the chorus worked to enhance our musical skills through exercises, mostly through humming, and by creating virtual pieces,” Kass said. “It’s so wonderful to be allowed to sing together again.”

“We still have to take certain safety measures, such as using masks and distancing. While it can make it a bit harder to hear each other, it’s a very small price to pay for things to feel like old times again.”

While the environment is not entirely the same as it was before the pandemic hit, students appreciate the heightened sense of normalcy. Additionally, special masks have been purchased for the singers, which include more space from the mouth to the cloth, producing a clearer sound.

Madeleine Pogoda ‘25 is a new singer in the School’s choir, and they feel that they are ready to be rehearsing and performing in the Upper School. “It is really exciting getting to sing as a group this year,” Pogoda said about the new experience. “It’s my first year in Greenline and so far it’s amazing.”

Greenline isn’t the only musical program being reintroduced to the school. Music classes in the Middle School are also resuming. Music Teacher and Band Director Luca Antonucci said he is ecstatic to have the students back in the music rooms this year.

“I would say it has been great to have all the Middle and Upper School Bands up and running this year,” Antonucci said. “We are using a variety of COVID mitigation measures including bell covers for wind instruments to ensure a safe and fun experience for everybody.”