Thanks to the video conferencing program Zoom and the efforts of church staff, children and youth can participate in church life through Sunday School, Confirmation Class, Youth Fellowship – and even the children’s choir meets online with Tom Shelton, children’s and youth choir director.
For instance, at the 30-minute practice on April 1, Tom opened with fun vocal warmups, giving everyone a chance to demonstrate. With a short video, he reviewed what Palm Sunday means and connected it to Sunday’s worship. Children learned the “Hosanna” opening hymn to get ready to wave palms from their homes on Sunday.
Sometimes the children saw only Tom, sometimes they saw and heard one person singing a solo, sometimes their faces were spread out in a grid. “It does my heart good,” says Tom, when I look at all of their faces, and they are sitting up tall in their chairs at home and actually singing!
Connection is the most important part, Tom says. “These are troubling times. It’s nice to have some sense of normalcy or ‘routine’ when everything they are used to is ‘up in the air.’ They LOVE being together!”]
It is takes three times longer to plan a virtual class, practicing how to move from warm up exercises to showing a score. Mostly the singer’s screens are muted, but they unmute themselves to respond. “I love how much they want to be a leader and sing an example,” says Tom. “I have to be very conscious that It’s not ‘just singing,’ but that I’m stretching them musically, by asking questions and having them explain the answers or type the answer in the “chat” message box.
On April 15 the singers will enjoy a treat. They will reprise the musical from February in a virtual “sing along!”
Says Tom: “One positive thing – I’m growing a lot by doing this! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! “