People need music, and 18 months ago, Clark music directors just couldn’t have it.
Like most colleges in Washington State, with the surge in COVID-19 cases in March 2020, Clark closed its doors, sending all its students, professors, and faculty home. With the establishment of online teaching, most courses including choir were moved online. Unfortunately, some classes just were not able to adapt well for online learning.
Clark College Choir Director Jacob Funk previously spoke to The Indy regarding his experience with an online choir. While Funk’s experience with online instruction with Choir was limited to teaching music theory and history, he considers himself fortunate, and realizes that the other music directors who teach other courses didn’t have that luxury. And yet, he’s more than excited for the quarter.
“The last year and a half…I don’t want to say [it] didn’t happen because significant things [did] happen, but still, it feels like we’re stepping back into what reality was even though we’re in masks, even though we’re spaced out farther than we were,” said Funk.
On the flip side, the other two sections of Clark’s music program, orchestra, and the band didn’t have any playing time of any sort.
The remaining directors were left to their own devices. “I’m just thrilled [to return], I was bored,” said Dr. Doug Harris, the director of bands.
“It was kind of like being retired without planning on retiring,” said Dr. Don Appert, who leads the Clark College Orchestra.
Appert, aside from his duties with the orchestra, is the Music department chair and oversees the COVID-19 protocols regarding on-campus music programs. As of November 2021, all Clark College music programs are following the policies in place, including online health check-ins.
Choir also has more practical and functional singer masks that eliminate the inconveniences that ordinary masks bring, making singing all that easier. Without having to worry about masks being an issue, all three programs have had some improvements to keep their players as safe as possible.
However, masks are not the only changes that were made to the choir programs. Most ensembles have a required 15-minute rotation rehearsal to decrease the risk of infection, which means groups are required to move from one practice room to another to allow for proper air filtration.
With all the protocols in place, the directors are more than ready and eager to get back to jamming. But for Harris, the beginning of their comeback raised some anxiety in addition to the excitement.
“The hard thing was I didn’t know what I was coming back to,” said Harris.
For now, all three directors have established their routines and plan to stick to them until their concerts are over.
“Even [with] all these things, the elemental part of it, of humans [being] together is back it’s a really powerful thing and it’s the thing that humans need,” said Funk.