All-region tryouts have students singing behind a screen

Standing in front of students in the Performing Arts Center, the head choir teacher, Clint Pianalto, encourages students to stand and do a solo audition in front of their peers. While students shy away,  others bravely stand and are ready to show off their best.

“Now we’re really encouraging a lot of solo singing, a lot of feedback so that students can really get an idea,” Pianalto said. “We’re also encouraging them to record themselves often and work on how they record and how they manipulate the physical space where they are recording to make the best recording possible.”

According to Pianalto, students this year have to record a voice memo of their specific tryout for the all-region choir. This is much different from how it’s always been in past years. The process has changed, while the content of their tryout has stayed the same.

“We are still working on four pieces. Every kid works on three SATB pieces, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and the girls work on a female piece and the males work on a male piece,” Pianalto said. “Each group has four selections, they pick three of the four, and they audition on those three pieces.”

With the tryout being at home, they had to set certain rules in place in order to keep kids from cheating. Bel Canto sophomore, Phoebe Harris, informs us of how all-region tryouts usually are.

“If it was in person, they would have a curtain, a black curtain, so none of the judges could see you and you can’t see the judges,” Harris said. “Since it’s going to be virtual this year, everyone has as many takes as they want to make the perfect fit, so it’s going to be harder. The competition’s gonna be a lot tighter, but it’s also going to show who the actually strong singers are.”

Pianalto explained the rules to his students so they won’t get disqualified. According to him, with them not able to control what the students do at home, they are trusting their students to do the right thing.

“They can’t record in pieces, they can’t have any kind of pitch correction, they can’t have any kind of sound manipulation like reverb or added kind of effect,” Pianalto said. “It has to be just the kids recording from start to finish all in your things.”

Camerata senior, Connor Gwin, also shares his opinion on the new form of tryouts.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be very effective because people are just going to alternate, turn in whatever their best one is, and then kids who can actually perform are not going to be able to get a fair shot because the factor of being there with the judge really changes things,” Gwin said.

Pianalto believes that even though tryouts are different this year, the competition is still high. It’s still based on vocal ability.

“I think that all-region is still gonna be pretty competitive, but there are fewer students this year,” Pianalto said. “I think it’s really gonna boil down to the best of the best kids are gonna be the ones doing it.”

Harris and Gwin both agree that their directors, Pianalto and Michael Brown, have handled these changes very well.

“They’ve been really comforting because they know that this is gonna be a hard time for them and for us,” Harris said. “They’re just being open and honest that this is new for them. They’re just going to be very open to communicating for us, so that’s really comforting.”

According to Pianalto, this has been an amazing learning experience for him, Brown, and his students. Teaching them lessons they can use for the rest of their lives.

“I think our students have handled the changes really well,” Pianalto said. “I think they’re ready for it.”