Ridge High School Virtual Choral Concert

Sungwon Chung ‘22

Though the pandemic inhibited many activities from taking place, especially in school, the new Ridge High School choral director, Mrs. Carol Beadle, did not let it get in the way of the winter choir concert. Both she and her students worked hard in and out of Zoom to create music for the community. The Ridge High School Choir held a virtual concert on December 22nd at 7:30 PM  via a Youtube Livestream.


Putting together the virtual concert proved to be very challenging, but fruitful. One of the most difficult consequences of the pandemic was transitioning to an online workspace. Mrs Beadle stated that “since there’s a delay on Zoom, you can’t actually sing together. So all of the singers are on ‘mute’ during rehearsal. That is the oddest feeling in the world. Virtual rehearsals are basically like a solo/monologue on my part, in which I constantly ask ‘how are we doing? Any questions? No? Ok.” As a member of the choir and being a fully virtual student, my own Zoom choir experience was definitely odd as well. Singing in front of no one took some time to get used to. Mrs. Beadle also states that “as a conductor, I’m used to hearing what’s happening musically, and responding on the spot – fixing and tweaking every step of the way.” At the moment,the situation and learning environment does not allow for that.


Mrs. Beadle also adds that she is “usually extremely organized and …has everything mapped out for the year, by the previous spring, but this year that was impossible: both because this is a new position for her, and because of the unknown of this hybrid/ virtual world. Things have unfolded one step at a time and it’s been so fun [for her] to see where creativity has led [everyone] to. [She] didn’t go into this virtual concert with a big plan, but bit by bit, [her and the choirs have] come up with ideas to record and edit in ways that make each song special and different.”


Knowing that being able to gauge how her students were doing was essential, not only for concert preparation, but also for her students’ growth in music, Mrs Beadle made a request to be able to safely sing outside with her students, which was approved by the district. This definitely helped, but it came with its own set of challenges, especially for the singers. She says that “when we were approved to sing outside, you can imagine what a different experience that is…try singing with a mask on! You can’t open your mouth all of the way and you can’t take a deep breath! Then space everyone 8 to 9 feet apart (to be extra safe) with no walls around you to help the sound resonate, and you feel like you’re singing all alone with no one around you! It’s all just so bizarre.”


The experience of directing a high school choir during this pandemic is exceptionally unique for Mrs Beadle, as this is also her first year teaching at a high school. She previously taught within the same district, but at Liberty Corner Elementary School. When asked about the experience of taking the job as a high school choral director during the pandemic, she states that “it is certainly a strange time to change [positions]. I wish that I could meet my colleagues and students in more natural ways, rather than masked and/or virtually. It can be lonely after coming from a staff that I’ve known for 12 years. However, I am so incredibly grateful for everyone’s warmth and welcome from both students and staff. The students could have easily shut-down and said this year was weird, different, and hard, but instead they have been incredibly open to new ways of doing things in the choir world. At times I miss the younger students, but I am LOVING working with teenagers. High schoolers still have a young enthusiasm and excitement, but it’s combined with more refined talents, special hobbies and gifts that contribute to the ensemble, passion that takes form in leadership, and empathy that leads to deeper conversations. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know such awesome young adults.”


Mrs. Beadle’s purpose behind putting together a winter concert was to allow  everyone to appreciate the world. She wanted everyone to “first realize, appreciate, and treasure live performances.” She remarks that “[live performances are such a gift that we’ve taken for granted for so long, and this year has made us really see how truly powerful they are. Second, that technology and editing can be a beautiful thing, but that we’ve been spoiled by very professional and expensive productions. The amount of hours and the budget needed for professional videos is truly mind boggling. Therefore, what our students, both performers, and editors, have been able to create is remarkable given their age and experience.”


Finally, when asked who she wanted to give a shoutout to, she replied:


“Mr. Ortega for being so willing to collaborate on a huge project. Ridge Productions Club, in particular, seniors Emma Bertram and Julia Schnarr for doing countless hours of editing.  


Mr. and Mrs. Harvey for their guidance and friendship. 


The singers, for their willingness to do SO much more than a usual year- who knew choir would have so much extra homework?! Students usually sign up for choir because they want to sing together. This year, singers have had to take individual audio and video recordings, which can be hard and nerve wracking. But they’ve been incredibly resilient and hard-working. Thank you.”


And as always, she wishes everyone to know that the choir room is open for all, and for those who are not part of the choral program, she  welcomes them to join whenever they wish to; it is never too late to start singing.