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Student Blog: Weekly Antigen Rapid Test (ART) For Ensemble Singing

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While many countries are stabilizing and allowed to sing in groups of more than 5 people, here in Singapore, we are still cautious.

Student Blog: Weekly Antigen Rapid Test (ART) For Ensemble Singing

Here in Singapore, the COVID-19 situation has been fluctuating. When we're just about to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we were met with spikes of cases and we were forced to go back and forth with the restrictions. The art industry here has been hit the hardest because we are the first to shut down and last to reopen. We are still hopeful, but the fatigue is kicking in, and personally, I myself am tired of this, getting jealous of other countries being able to resume musical theatre.

It's not all bad here, theatres have reopened but the musical theatre is still not in the clear. Though the restrictions are limited to 5 unmasked singers at any given time, it is still difficult to accommodate that restriction in an institutional setting. With a class of 12 students, it is difficult to navigate through the ever-changing restrictions. Ensemble singing, song and dance, and pas de deux classes have been withheld from the curriculum due to the restrictions.

Fortunately, just recently we were able to resume ensemble singing in school provided if we are vaccinated and a weekly Antigen Rapid Test (ART) is conducted with negative results. This is a huge leap for us. We have not done any ensemble singing since school commence in Aug 2021 and it has affected our learning journey of being able to apply harmony techniques and also blending of voices. Song and dance classes will also resume soon and that will help to increase our stamina and capability of singing while intensively dancing.

Thankfully LASALLE College of the Arts has provided some programs with the ART kit, which cost about US$10 per test kit for each student (when done weekly, that's a big cost), in order to fill up the gaps in those classes that we've missed since COVID-19 hit our shores. That is a huge amount of resources that we are not taking for granted.

On top of that, we will be presenting our selection of songs to the public in December at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. It has always been an annual event for my course to present at the Voices festival. Normally all three year groups will perform but unfortunately last year only five were selected and this year, year 2 and year 3 will present separate programs. Despite that, it will be a really exciting journey for us and we are working so hard to make it a grand event.

During our first ensemble singing class, we were all overwhelmed with joy to be able to hear our voices come together for the first time and being able to create harmonies that we've never been able to. It was difficult at first to blend our voices but throughout the week, my classmates and I kept practicing our harmonies together, and during the second session, we sang our first song with so much pride and joy. We were ecstatic from just singing and it felt so emotional. Yes, just like you've seen the first rehearsal of all the musicals reopening on Broadway and West End. That was the same feeling we had.

There is still a long way to go and we are all committed to working hard to perfect our songs in order to make the performance in December a memorable one as it is our milestone as a Musical Theatre student. I will never take ensemble singing for granted ever again. There is a tingling sensation every time we hit the harmonies. I hope that it'll be an endemic soon so that we can put up a full-scale musical and do ensemble singing with my seniors and juniors.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Zac Denver Lee