A Capella Groups Adjust to COVID Challenges

There is not a single extracurricular activity that has remained completely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From football to Model UN, Math Club to alpine skiing, clubs and sports in all areas of Hanover High School are shifting and adapting to meet new COVID guidelines. For many activities, especially sports, these changes are difficult but deemed manageable, in part because of their prioritization by schools and society at large. By wearing masks during practices (and, depending on the sport, games) and playing only teams in our region, most sports teams are able to maintain a semblance of normalcy. For HHS’s a capella groups, the COVID experience is a little bit different.

Traditionally, HHS’s three a capella groups, Dachords, Hilights, and Soarthroats, met twice a week: once on Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00 and once on the weekend for two hours. While all three groups met on Wednesdays, weekend times and days were subject to change and varied from group to group. This year, the groups are allowed to meet on Tuesdays from 3:00-4:00 and on Fridays during Study Hall. This leaves groups with significantly less rehearsal time, and conflicts with other afterschool commitments often prove troublesome on Tuesdays. Groups are also barred from meeting outside of the school, which means that the relaxed weekend rehearsals are no more. For Ben Williams (Soarthroats, 2023), “going to people’s houses made it definitely more fun” and the current model “feels more school-run.” For groups that pride themselves on being student-led, this shift is quite jarring.

Even so, students are still working to make the best out of the situation. Ian Solberg (Soarthroats, 2023), maintains that rehearsals are “a bright spot” in his day, allowing him to see people in a non-academic setting—aside from Soarthroats, he is “not going out anywhere.” For Ian, “music is such a big part of [his] life,” and Soarthroats provides a way to connect with others while engaging with music. Kaia Randolph (2021), leader of Hilights, echos the sentiment that a capella remains great for building relationships. According to Kaia, Hilights’ “love of music and love of being with each other” has stayed the same, and adds that “it’s been really great to have that sense of normalcy and that sense of community in a really difficult time.”

Participating in a capella during COVID-19 even has its benefits: Gunnar Langhus (Dachords, 2021) is excited about Hilights and Dachords’ prospects at ICSHA (The International Championship of High School A Capella), adding that Dachords and Hilights “stand a bigger chance than ever to win because all of the big music schools are remote and can’t rehearse in person.” Gunnar is also “learning sound engineering” so he can mix the audio for Dachords’ submission.

Despite adjusting to myriad changes, everyone hopes that one thing will remain the same: Acapellooza. Says Ben Williams, “I’m hoping that we can have Acapellooza because we didn’t get to have it last year … and I’m leaving next year, so hopefully we can have one this year.” Here’s hoping!

Image: screenshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm7JT5VF-3I

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