Choral 2020-21 Rehearsal Procedures and Schedule

Information for Vocal Music Majors

Dear Vocal Music Major,

This information is being sent to all voice students through the voice faculty. It relates specifically to choral auditions and rehearsals and ONLY to those who have a curricular ensemble participation requirement—undergraduates and master’s students (2 semesters). For incoming MM students: please consider delaying your ensemble participation until 2021-22.

First of all, thank you for your patience and understanding as we try to navigate this challenging situation. We know you likely have questions and perhaps a fair amount of anxiety as we face the unknowns of the coming semester. Please know that our first priority is ensuring your health and safety, while trying to offer a reasonably robust and fulfilling choral ensemble experience.

We’ve spent the summer developing plans for in-person choral rehearsals based on the research that is coming out every week and in consultation with Dr. Don Anderson, an infectious disease physician who has worked closely with the FDA and with Dr. Fauci at the NIH. He is also a donor to the MSU choral program. We believe that the plans outlined below create a safe environment for choral singing. Obviously, the situation is always developing and that may necessitate changes and adjustments. Below we have outlined our current plans and protocols.

There are likely other questions that will come up. We will add to this FAQ as they do.

Will I have the opportunity to get more information and ask questions?

Yes, Dr. Reed, Dr. Snow, and I will host an informational session on Monday, August 17, at 7 p.m. during which you will be able to ask questions about any of the issues surrounding choral ensembles in the coming semester.

Will there be choir auditions?

Yes, please go to this link for complete information.

For those who do not want to participate in an in-person ensemble there will be an alternative virtual class that will fulfill curricular ensemble requirements for undergraduates and master’s students. The choice of an in-person choral experience or an on-line substitute class is entirely yours. In either case, though, you must still go through the audition process.

Anyone who has fulfilled their curricular ensemble participation requirement but who has a scholarship that requires them to participate, may opt out of an in-person ensemble. Those students will NOT be required to take the alternative virtual class.

The required audition excerpt this year is the chorus from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem. We are also trying to make arrangements to produce a virtual performance utilizing all the singers in Chorale and State Singers (virtual or in-person) and perhaps others. It is an important piece historically and its message is timely today. All singers in the College should have the opportunity to sing it.

How will the choirs be structured and where will they rehearse? 

  • Ensembles will be reduced to groups of no more than 15 singers. Chorale and State Singers, for example, will likely be divided into two groups.
  • We are currently planning outdoor rehearsals. We have been approved to use the Kellogg Center parking ramp, which will provide good air circulation and shelter in case of rain.

What are the safety protocols?

  • Masks and protective eyewear has been ordered for each singer. Check it out at this link.
  • Singers will be spaced with 15 feet apart. Music stands will be placed at each station and within a 3 ft x 3 ft "rehearsal area." Students must remain in this area at all times. 
  • Conductor and pianist will be placed central to the group and at least 6 feet apart.
  • Students must wear a mask at all times until they are ready to rehearse.
  • Upon reaching their space, students must spray the music stand with sanitizing spray provided at each music stand.
  • At the end of each rehearsal period students must spray the music stand and hard surfaces within the designated "rehearsal area." Students must retain possession of masks and eyewear at all times. They must never be left on the music stand.
  • All music will be provided virtually. You may sing using your tablet or print the music yourself. There will be no charge for the music this semester.

What is the choir rehearsal schedule?

We have developed a planned phase-in of choir rehearsals. The following volunteer ensembles will begin rehearsing on or shortly after September 2.

  • Jennifer Heder’s DMA Choir (1:50 p.m. MTWR)
  • Jack Rifkin’s MM Chamber Choir (12:40 p.m. F)
  • Practicum Choir (11:30  a.m. T)
  • All other singers will meet virtually in some fashion (TBD)

The schedule will be structured with a 30-minute rehearsal followed by a 20-minute room refresh period.  Rehearsal periods will be structured as follows:

  • 12:30 p.m. Rehearsal
  • 1:00 p.m. All occupants disinfect their area and exit the room.
  • 1:20 p.m. Rehearsal
  • 1:40 p.m. All occupants disinfect their area and exit the room.
  • 2:00 p.m. Rehearsal
  • 2:30 p.m. All occupants disinfect their area and exit the room and building.

Assuming that those rehearsals go well and the protocols that have been developed prove to be successful, we will expand to include our other ensembles at their regularly scheduled times beginning Monday, September 21

What will the alternative virtual class consist of?

  • All music education majors electing to complete their ensemble requirement virtually will be put in State Singers (12:40). Class will meet 1-2 times weekly. Students will assess, discuss, and present on high school choral performances with occasional special guests.
  • All performance majors electing to complete their ensemble requirement virtually will be put in Chorale (1:50). Class will meet 1-2 times weekly. Students will assess, present, and discuss opera chorus performances with occasional special guests.

Will there be ensemble performances?

Because of the inherent danger of performing in a traditional choral formation, there will be no formal concerts. As each ensemble learns one or two pieces, we will do an audio/video recording with the possibility of broadcasting some or all of these “performances” later in the semester as appropriate.