Malibu Middle School Honors Choir

Members of the Malibu Middle School Honors Choir perform traditional American folk song “Shenandoah” in a virtual concert.

Malibu Middle and High school students have made the most of online education since the sudden shift to remote learning back in mid-March. The novel coronavirus pandemic forced students and instructors alike to come up with creative projects in replacement to in-person activities.

While concerts, festivals and community events have been canceled or postponed during the pandemic, choirs have been using Zoom sessions to harmonize together. 

Malibu High School (MHS) rising senior Frankie Cloete, now president of the MHS Choral Cabinet, wrote to The Malibu Times to describe how she helped create a performance in collaboration with pianist Joellen “Cha Cha” McNaughton. 

“For many of us, choir is more than just a class, it’s a family,” Cloete wrote. “I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of the choir.”

Cloete wrote that after some adjustments, students learned to make the best of classes now being online—instructor Krysta Sorenson agreed.

“It’s not easy for any class to suddenly have to go to an online format; it’s even harder for the choir to sing together and harmonizing in the moment is the purpose and goal of the class,” Sorenson wrote in an email to The Malibu Times. “The Malibu Middle and High School singers truly rose above the challenges of separation and found creative ways to make music together.”

Sorenson said the students recorded themselves singing Broadway solos, found music and games to play together on Zoom sessions and participated in the virtual choir project.

“They’re really resilient, from everything that has happened—even from the fires and disasters happening, including this, having to leave school,” Sorenson said. “They just showed they really wanted to continue to be what we called a ‘choir family.’ They enjoyed meeting each other on Zoom and the kids came up with games to do online with everyone and they were really excited about doing the virtual choir project together.”

Malibu High School Chamber Singers

Members of the Malibu High School Chamber Singers, an advanced group of vocalists who earn college credits through Santa Monica College for their participation in the class, perform “Wild Mountain Thyme” in a virtual concert available to watch on YouTube.

“Once the individual videos were put together, thanks to Joellen ‘Cha Cha’ McNaughton, we were able to see and hear all of the voices together once more,” Sorenson wrote. “Music is what is keeping us together in these tough times.”

McNaughton said the students became closer after working remotely.

“Choir with physical distancing is inherently really difficult, but what I experienced during this time of COVID-19 was a new way of becoming closer with our students that I will always cherish and never regret,” McNaughton wrote.

“I think that just not being together, for everyone, has been really hard, especially for choir,” Cloete said. “So it’ll be interesting to see what happens when we go back, whatever happens, how we continue to make the most of it.”

Cloete has been singing since she was in fourth grade and currently is positioned at soprano one.

“I love it. I was taking private singing lessons, which I think helped me become more confident in my singing and this year I started doing more solos, so I’m definitely trying to get out there more,” Cloete said, adding she was looking forward to taking on the role of president in the fall.

Malibu High School Chamber Singers—“an advanced auditioned ensemble for students in grades nine-12,” performed “Wild Mountain Thyme,” a traditional Scottish Folksong by Andrew Parr; the video is available at: youtu.be/8JZHq40ZRJo.

Malibu Middle School Honors Choir performed “Shenandoah,” an American folk song arranged by Brad Printz; the video is available at: youtu.be/XRU4FXFySes.

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