The residential choirs of Kellogg Community College are putting in-person music making on pause this fall, but the halls will be anything but quiet.
Dr. Gerald Case-Blanchard, director of Vocal Arts and coordinator of the College’s music programming, is among the many college faculty nationwide getting creative as their academic plans adjust to the new reality of COVID-19. Music programming at KCC has been hit especially hard by the pandemic: All fall choral performances have been canceled and all music classes will be offered in an online-only format.
This presents unique challenges for a program that generally includes extensive in-person instruction and performance aspects, but Case-Blanchard is optimistic.
“Singers will certainly be among the last to resume our normal activities due to the nature of our art,” Case-Blanchard said. “However, I don’t allow myself to wallow in the darkness and fear of the unknown. Instead, I begin to find other creative ways to keep the voices singing.”
Online Music Classes
Case-Blanchard hopes to keep current students engaged in their musical education while also drawing in new students through a robust schedule of online music classes. This includes general classes on topics like Music Appreciation and Music Theory as well as individual voice lessons and lessons on instruments including the clarinet, drums, flute, guitar, piano, saxophone and violin.
The College is also offering lessons in choral conducting, and a new class called Music in Early Childhood, which focuses on musical development in young children.
Additionally, KCC offers the option for community members to take select music classes and lessons as non-credit courses for personal enrichment. Such offerings are perfect for individuals who want to study music with individual, personalized attention from one of KCC’s exceptional music faculty members without the pressure of homework, tests or grades.
“We are a community college and therefore community is central to who we are and what we do,” Case-Blanchard said. “Our students aren’t just numbers or seats, but individuals with unique strengths and challenges. It is our mission to help guide them to becoming the best musician they can be, and in doing so, to challenge them to reach their fullest potential.”
Virtual Recitals and More
Music instruction this fall will be offered via a number of online technologies quickly becoming familiar to today’s students, including Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and other video conferencing-style software, depending on the individual needs of each student. And the College’s musical offerings don’t end with individualized instruction in the virtual classroom.
Beginning in September, Case-Blanchard will also be hosting a virtual “Choral Check-in” on the first and third Mondays of each month, touching base with home-bound choral students on topics including vocal exercises, basic music reading skills, breathing techniques for singers, sight reading, and sectional rehearsals for choir members. There will also be interviews with longtime choir members and program updates and announcements featured on the Performing Arts @ KCC SoundCloud page the last Friday of each month.
A number of virtual recitals are also in the works, including the continuation of the program’s popular Music in Quarantine video series, a faculty performance series that ran in April and May on Facebook and YouTube.
“It is imperative that we remain engaged in the art of singing, even though we can’t do it with our musical friends in the same space at the same time,” Case- Blanchard said. “We can and must continue to create art and keep it vibrant in our planned activities.”
Case-Blanchard is also looking forward to a big spring semester featuring performances that will mark historic anniversaries for a pair of the College’s residential choirs. The Kellogg Singers will celebrate its 65th year of music making at KCC, while the Branch County Community Chorus will celebrate its 20th anniversary. The program’s annual “Singing in the Spring” concert that semester will commemorate them both.
The Spring 2021 season will culminate with an international concert tour in May with performances scheduled in various locations in Canada, a trip originally scheduled for this past spring but rescheduled due to COVID-19. And Case-Blanchard’s vision for the choirs continues well into the future beyond even that: A half dozen additional national or international tours are in the works to be held biennially over the next decade, with tours to locations including Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Hawaii; the anticipated schedule culminates with a concert tour to Japan in 2033.
“KCC choirs have been making music since the college’s founding in 1956 and we are not about to stop now,” Blanchard said. “Our future as a community of singers shall be bright, and we shall sing together again.”
For More Information
For a full list of KCC music classes and individualized music lessons offered this fall, visit www.kellogg.edu and click on “Class Schedules” at the top of the page. Click on “Advanced Search” to view classes filtered by semester and topic.
Regular updates about upcoming KCC music programming and initiatives can be found on the Performing Arts at Kellogg Community College Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KelloggChoirs or the Kellogg Choirs Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/KelloggChoirs. Videos of past performances and events can be viewed on the Performing Arts at KCC YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/k0229071, while audio content is available on the Performing Arts @ KCC SoundCloud page at https://soundcloud.com/blanc1g.
Information about academic music programming at KCC can be found on the College’s website at www.kellogg.edu/music. Individuals interested in receiving regular updates and announcements about the program can sign up for the KCC Musical Events email list via the “email list sign-up form” link on that page.
For more news about Kellogg Community College, view our latest press releases online at https://daily.kellogg.edu/category/news-releases.