With less than a month left in school, school activities are winding down, and classes are beginning to wrap up a disjointed, unorthodox year. But if you happen to walk by the baseball field during lunch, you might see the Notables hard at work.
“It’s obviously been a challenging year of unprecedented precedents, and yadda yadda,” Notables Director Mr. Mark Hightower jokingly said, “but we have successfully sung together.”
The group has been practicing to get ready for live performances at Commencement and the Mother-Son luncheon, both in June. They also just recorded their part of the Spring Concert as a group and are continuing to rehearse each week with the intensity ramping up.
Earlier this year, they were forced to rehearse in small groups for only around twenty minutes at a time to practice their unison and harmony. Each Notable was also required to record their part of the Winter Concert separately, a hindrance to the overall quality.
“What we’ve had to do, what a lot of people have had to do, is you get a track you have to sing along to at home, which is really not the collaborative art form of music ensembles,” Mr. Hightower said. “So, just being alone by yourself and singing along with a click track isn’t very satisfying and it doesn’t lead often to an awesome final product.”
For the Notables, practicing together has had some minor changes due to COVID-19 restrictions. Social distancing is still required, so the members must learn to sign spread apart instead of together. New equipment has also added to the learning curve.
“It’s something we usually don’t do, is work with sound systems, like with mics and things like that, and record,” Fifth Former Elijah Lee said. “Usually if we record something, we’d all record it in one room, and we’d have a mic picking everyone up, but we can’t do that this year.”
The lack of live performances this year adds to the difficulty of preparing for the two end-of-the-year performances. Normally, the group has hours of performing experience before the school year is over, but the members this year have to put on a show without the same amount of time on stage.
“One of the parts of the graduation song, and this is a mainstay for any graduation that happens at Haverford, but the seniors usually have a more prominent role in the song.”Cyril Leahy ’21
Regardless, it’s an exciting last few weeks, especially for the Sixth Formers who had most of their upper-class years impacted by the pandemic.
“One of the great things about how the year has turned out, in the end, is that we’re able to sing for the Mother-Son luncheon for the seniors, which is in June, and we also get to do a song for graduation,” Sixth Former Cyril Leahy said. “People will be excited, and I know the group certainly is.”
The Sixth Formers in the Notables unfortunately will not be able to go on tour in another country this summer, a letdown for the members graduating that hoped to have one last experience with the singing group. Disappointments aside, the Sixth Form members are still recognized through the song they chose to perform at this year’s Commencement, as well as its performance.
“One of the parts of the graduation song, and this is a mainstay for any graduation that happens at Haverford, but the seniors usually have a more prominent role in the song,” Leahy said. “They have a small solo for each one, or they have just the parts where seniors come in specifically and sing a portion of the song.”
The continuation of this “senior song” tradition at Commencement brings back a sense of normalcy for the group, but the strangeness of this year is not lost on the members, many of whom are looking towards the impact this year has on the future.
But the present is now, and the members are grateful to have the opportunity to perform.
“Last year, some of the most dedicated Notables we had in years were unable to get a true sendoff,” Leahy said. “But this year we get an opportunity that is frankly unmatched, and we have the opportunity to not only send off ourselves and to send off the class of last year but to send off the school from a time that feels like, after this school year, will be behind us.”