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Arts Center Continues Art, Science and History Programming Amidst COVID-19 Precautions

With over 120 youth enrolled in the Center Stage Youth Choirs at Midland Center for the Arts, the Center is working to bring art into the living rooms for local families amidst COVID-19 social distancing precautions. “In these challenging times we turn to one another for support, which is why we have created a virtual community,” said Terri Trotter, President & CEO. In order to accomplish this, the Center began a series of online video rehearsals as a direct extension of the #MakeArtVirtual initiative.

The first live video rehearsal took place Tuesday afternoon, led by choral directors Heather DeGroot and Anna Doering, alongside accompanist, Dorothy Marinan. The rehearsal which was facilitated on Facebook Live by Dr. Matt Travis, Director of Choral & Orchestral Programs, provided an avenue for these Youth Choir students to rehearse concert repertoire with the guidance of choral instructors while maintaining the suggested protocols of social distancing.

“When it became apparent that traditional rehearsal models would not work, we wanted to find a way to give our students a meaningful artistic outlet and to ensure that students were able to continue singing,” said Travis. “Center Stage Youth Choir is a weekly commitment for these incredibly talented kids, and we wanted to find a way to allow them to be united through music – to provide some consistency in an ever-changing period in history. It's a great way to remind us that through complicated and challenging times the arts can always prevail.”

The first rehearsal welcomed 109 youth participants to the live stream. Students could ask questions of the directors by commenting on the video thread and receiving a response in real-time. “It was really inspiring to see the way the students engaged in the new format. In some ways it was more like a traditional rehearsal than we initially thought, students asked questions, requested passages to rehearse – the entire process was more effective than I anticipated in all honesty,” said Travis. “The instruction, while certainly not designed to replace the in-person rehearsals, appears to be a viable digital alternative that will keep young people in the Great Lakes Bay Region singing.”

The Center Stage Youth Choirs program is a year-long commitment with multiple performances throughout the year. Members of the choir are accepted by audition and are for students grades 3 through 8.

In order to fulfill the Center’s mission to find meaning and connection, the Center is pursuing unique and creative approaches to engage the community. This week, the Center launched a virtual community, #MakeArtVirtual. As residents are continually advised to practice social distancing, the Center will publish daily activities for exploration of art, science and history on weekdays at 2 p.m. with the comfort of no in-person interaction.

About the author

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday

Josh Holliday is the former Director of Communications at Midland Center for the Arts. Telling the stories of artists, innovators and modern day explorers!

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