Singing groups consider innovative rehearsal methods

Sixth Former Ben Fosnocht makes adaptations to normal singing rehearsals.

Every winter and spring, students, faculty, family, and friends gather in Centennial Hall to listen to and support a collection of the school’s finest musicians. The two major singing groups, the Notables and Glee Club, anchor those events.

     Last year, these groups—like countless others—had their spring preparations cut short. While Mr. Mark Hightower digitally combined various Notables voices into an impressive song for the graduation video, both groups were unable to perform in front of the school in the spring. This year, they will utilize creative techniques to meet the school’s new policies.

     “What we are currently planning,” Mr. Hightower said, “is to have [four boys] come in and separate into four corners of a large room and spread out as far away as they possibly can with masks on.”

     While these quartets are going to be very different from the Notables’ rehearsals last year, Mr. Hightower is optimistic.

     “It actually works really well because we typically rehearse in sectionals that are basically quartets, with four guys singing the same part,” Mr. Hightower said. “Then, we put everyone together and we rehearse as a full group. [The new method] requires more musical independence, confidence, and talent to be the only person singing your part in a mixed quartet, but I see it potentially working assuming we stay in school and everything goes well.”

     Fifth Former and Notables member Damian Ferraro had similar views.

Innovative solutions have arisen from the difficulties associated with wearing traditional masks to sing.

     “It’s basically going to be [two tenors], one bass, and one baritone in the mixed quartet. Then, if we wanted to record something, we could have each quartet sing and combine those audios together,” Ferraro said.

     Additional innovative solutions have arisen from the difficulties associated with wearing traditional masks to sing.

     Ferraro said, “[Mr. Hightower] recommended this singing mask which is like a regular mask, but it’s got a bit more space. We’ve also considered going outside to rehearse and sing.”

     Sixth Form Notables member Decker Patterson said, “With the standard masks, you get it right in front of your face so you don’t get that much air-flow. With the singing masks, you get a lot of air-flow, but the difference is that it is hot.”

     Mr. Hightower plans to experiment with his various rehearsal methods for the Notables and adjust as needed. For the Glee Club, which has approximately 76 students enrolled this year, he is working on another plan.

     “I’m considering offering virtual alternative programming and doing a sort of deep dive into an interesting piece of music,” Mr. Hightower said. “We were thinking about the musical Hamilton . . . we could offer a music class where we could study themes, rhythm, and harmony of Hamilton.”

     The large numbers of students in Glee Club will likely result in a mostly virtual program this year. However, because the Notables have considerably fewer students, they hope they will be able to establish as much normalcy as possible under current circumstances and stay together as a group.

     “The cool thing about the Notables is that people come from all different facets of the school,” Ferraro said. “But we all have this common goal of making music and entertaining people through our musical talents, and I think that’s something that is special about a group like that.”

     Patterson said, “We’re already so close-knit and devoted to the Notables, so I think that is what will get us through and keep the Notables alive this year.”

Author: Mitav Nayak '22

Mitav Nayak has contributed to The Index since 2018. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. Mitav won the fall 2019 Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) Philadelphia-area Student Journalism Competition for Newspaper Sports Story Writing and was to compete for the state title in the spring of 2020 (canceled due to COVID).