Seth Boyd, a choir teacher at Minnetonka Middle School East, was not going to let e-learning stop his students from coming together to sing and make music together. Even though they couldn't meet in person, Mr. Boyd learned how to combine recordings from individual students into a master recording that blended all their voices, as in a normal concert. This way, students and their families could enjoy a virtual performance within the comfort of their own home.
"I felt this time [during the pandemic] was a time that called for musicians to perform," explains Mr. Boyd. "Music is a source of hope, strength and solace in a dark time. This was a moment that singing was made for."
Throughout the two months of online learning, Mr. Boyd sent students excerpts of their songs little by little as class assignments. By the end of the year, the students had learned the whole song and were asked to send in a final recording of the whole thing. This is what Mr. Boyd used to create the final recording with all his students' voices.
All in all, Mr. Boyd says he spent close to four hours on each video, with seven videos total — a process which involved combining student recordings and using audio editing software to balance the voices and cut out background noise. "That amounts to 28 hours of work for me for about 30 minutes of music," he says. "It was a lot of time and effort, but it was a much more manageable project that I thought. It was also worth every minute."
In the end, the virtual performances proved to be a huge success, and were enjoyed by students, parents and other teachers alike. "Parents wrote me telling me that tears were streaming down their face as they were listening, that it made their day, and how proud they were of their kids," Mr. Boyd adds. He's glad he was able to provide an opportunity for his students to both perform and be recognized for their amazing work in class. If e-learning forms part of the MME's curriculum in the fall, he hopes to try another virtual performance with his new classes.
"[Music] is a fundamental part of the human experience, both an outlet for emotion and a means to heal others who are broken. Students deserve the opportunity to be a part of that creative experience," he concludes.
To listen to students performances, check out the links below: