By Alex Ruble, COM 250 Reporter

Edited by Russell Hendley, COM 303 Editor

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Berry College’s Music Department authorized new procedures and equipment amongst coronavirus concerns during the 2020 fall semester.

Since the beginning of the school year, the choir and ensembles have undergone many changes to the dynamics of their rehearsals and performances. Both the choir and ensembles at Berry will stream performances or upload a recording onto a site. They hope that by the spring semester, live performances will take place which will provide students with a better learning experience.

All students are required to wear masks and remain at a minimum of six feet apart. In certain instances, such as with a tuba player, they are positioned ten feet apart from nearby students.

Berry Choir and Berry Singers performer Stephen Kise said rehearsals have changed to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19 by rotating class locations.

“The choir changes locations every thirty minutes or so, to prevent air saturation,” said Kise. “We rehearse in person in both classrooms and outside. For the Men’s Choir, we will spend approximately 25 minutes in the college chapel before moving outside to a large tent. For Berry Singers, we rehearse in two separate classrooms at Ford, and then move to the concert hall.”

Additionally, the Berry choir provided a new type of mask called a singing mask for their members.

Berry Choir member Nolon Barry said that these masks are useful for them as they breathe and sing.

“They are much larger than normal masks, so they allow for more breathing space and the expansion of vowels,” Barry said. “They are rigid in the front to prevent the mask from being sucked into our mouth while swiftly inhaling while singing.”

The concert bands and jazz ensembles created new tools for their instrumentals to limit the spread of molecules in the air throughout the classroom. Brass players now have covers to put onto the ends of their instruments, and masks with flaps are worn by woodwind instrument players. Percussionists are also restricted from sharing mallets.

Director of Jazz and Percussion Studies Dr. David said that rehearsals inside the Bell Recital Hall are necessary and by shortening the rehearsal length it allows students to practice safely.

“We can keep it thirty to forty minutes based on a study by the University of Colorado,” David said. “We don’t want to be in there too long, so we try to do a quick and effective rehearsal.”

For the bands and ensembles, students separated by six or more feet caused a lack in the ability to hear one another.

Dr. David said one of the biggest challenges they have had to face together was struggling to hear one another.

“The hardest thing is being able to hear each other, so that when we play together we can have a solid ensemble sound. Especially in jazz, there is a lot of improvisation and listening. When you are distanced out it takes away from that experience. Before Covid, we were always trying to be as close as we could be to hear and interact. Now we are doing the opposite.”

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