While it seems everyone has had to make changes to adapt to COVID-19 protocols, some differences are more obvious than others - especially if it involves virtual formatting.
Dr. Jefferey Wall, associate professor of music at Northeastern State University, has had to coordinate a number of changes to ensure that his choruses can continue to practice and perform during the pandemic. This year marks Wall's eighth year at NSU.
"I came on as director of choral activities and vocal area coordinator in fall 2013," said Wall. "I was asked to take on the role of Department of Music chair in fall 2016 and have been in both of those roles since then."
Prior to coming to NSU, Wall held the position of Elmer F. Peirson Distinguished Professor at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He also held similar positions in New Mexico and Georgia. Despite his wealth of experience, the challenge of tackling COVID-19 guidelines is not an easy one.
"Everything is more difficult this year due to COVID-19," said Wall. "With aerosolization studies that took the position that singers were 'super-spreaders,' we have been very careful to mitigate risk as best we can."
To combat the spread of the virus during practice, Wall had to make several changes.
"We rehearse and perform in masks; we rehearse in the Jack Dobbins Field House South Gymnasium for physical distancing, and we will perform our concert in the Center for the Performing Arts in the open area of the audience seating instead of on stage," he said. "Our performances are recorded and streamed for a virtual audience in lieu of a live audience."
Thanks to Wall's proactive thinking, his students can continue to do what they love. It also allows them to continue their degree track and to use any choral scholarships they may have. Wall said it has not been easy on them, but they are doing great.
"I think everyone is stressed out, much like the rest of the world," said Wall. "As expected, we had rolling waves of students needing to quarantine at times. That has made it difficult to rehearse together, but the students are resilient and have shown great flexibility, compassion, and collaboration through these times. Mostly, we are all grateful we still get to sing together in some form or fashion - even if it's different. I think we all share that sentiment, and I am super-proud of them."
When Wall is not conducting his choruses, he has a very active and interesting life outside of school, with his main priority being family.
"My first priority is being a family man to my wife and two young daughters," said Wall. "I conduct a professional-level chamber choir in Tulsa called Vox Solaris. I am also a jiu-jiteiro, which is just a fancy way of saying I'm addicted to practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu."
The next performance that the Chorus at NSU has will take place on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. on their Youtube channel.