Every Christmas season, voices of Lower School students fill the Performing Arts Center during their annual Christmas concerts. Because of COVID-19’s restrictions, Lower School music teachers, Mrs. Maureen Woeltge and Mrs. Adrienne Johnson, have had to make some adjustments to these traditional festivities.
Amidst the musical changes of this year is the new format of this year’s Christmas concerts. Rather than performing live in front of an audience of parents, each Lower School class recorded a video of some Christmas carols. Students recorded their songs six feet apart in the Performing Arts Center, with masks on. Some of these festive songs included Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Silent Night, White Christmas, and Here Comes Santa Claus. The videos will be sent out to parents for an at-home viewing of the virtual concert.
Mrs. Beth Reopelle, a fifth grade teacher and parent of fourth grader Camille Reopelle, commented, “Every adult can remember performing in concerts or Nativity plays growing up, and as parents, we long to have our children make those memories.” She continued, “I think that parents are encouraged to see Christmas through the eyes of a child as they watch performances.”
Students prepared for their concerts in creative ways that go beyond singing. Like the performances, classes are largely similar to those of past years, yet students rehearse six feet apart and there is minimal singing. Students also participate in musical games, one of which involves boomwackers, which are musical instruments that help students practice the rhythm of a song. Mrs. Woeltge, the second-fifth grade music teacher, reflected,“It’s challenging not always singing in class. We have some singing, it just is never the focal point.”
In another effort to keep the Christmas spirit alive, Mrs. Woeltge’s students are also learning about the Nutcracker and will have an opportunity for a Christmas sharing day, where students can share music with their classes.
Despite the difficulties of this school year, there is still a heavy presence of learning and fun in the classroom. Mrs. Johnson, who teaches kindergarten and first grade music, stated, “My favorite part of teaching in general is watching the excitement of the students as they discover new songs, learn lyrics, play games and just plain have fun in the music room.”
Johnson also commented, “Lower School music classes are singing our way through the pandemic and having a jolly fun time singing holiday favorites.” Her classes are taking this time to discover new and exciting songs, one of which is called, “When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney”, and has become a classroom favorite.
Between Christmas carols and musical games, the Lower School is surely singing its way through the Christmas season here at PA.