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An Expression of Students' Love for Their School and Each Other
To watch the video, go to YouTube.
By Mignon Dobbins
Director of Choirs
Reagan High School
JUNE 1, 2021 - Bella Voce - Italian for "beautiful voice" - is Reagan High School's premier mixed choral ensemble.
In March of 2020 we had just wrapped up a few choral festivals and celebrated a superior-rated participation in the N.C. Music Educators Music Performance Adjudication event when the country went on lock-down and we scrambled to figure out how to continue working and learning from the safety of our homes. It quickly became evident that singing over Zoom is not gratifying, due to connectivity issues and other challenges, and that singing simultaneously with others on Zoom is impossible because of the delay.
I realized over the summer that I was going to have to learn to create virtual choir recordings. I had no prior experience or interest in pursuing this. We love nothing more than singing together in real time: blending, locking in chords, and committing as a group to a wide range of expressive tools to communicate emotional ideas. These aesthetic thrills of choral singing cannot satisfactorily be experienced in isolation.
But isolation was what we were facing, and I knew I had to do something to keep my students engaged and to connected to me and to each other. Several of my choral music contacts were figuring this out as well, and we shared what we were learning. I bought some inexpensive software and began experimenting with different ways of supporting the singers by creating Guide Tracks in which I sing or conduct while they record themselves singing from home. My students gave me excellent feedback about what types of guidance they found most supportive.
Ten months ago, we were doing all virtual instruction and I created several virtual videos for each choir so that I could monitor student progress and offer them a memento of their work, since they were missing the gratification of practicing and performing together.
As more students have returned to in-person instruction, we have been able to concentrate more on singing together in real time. Even the students who remain virtual can hear their classmates singing together through the webcams that the district installed. It's not as gratifying as being there, but at least they can hear their friends in harmony in real time.
As we began preparing for end of-the-year events such as graduation and Awards Day, it became evident that we would not hold a live choral concert this year. I wanted to offer the students and the senior class an expression of our love for the school and for each other.
The Reagan High School Alma Mater is set to the tune of "The Mansions of the Lord," which was written by Nick Glennie-Smith for the 2002 film We Were Soldiers. In 2004, the hymn was sung by the U.S. Armed Forces Chorus at President Ronald Reagan's memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Bella Voce and I are honored to offer Reagan High School this musical expression of our great affection for the "the black and silver within our view."