GREAT FALLS — A group of Glasgow High School choir students aren’t letting the pandemic silence them - they’ve turned a time of quarantine and social distancing into an opportunity to showcase their musical and visual talents through a series of music videos.
“We wanted to get some art out there into the community and kind of lift some spirits,” said Glasgow High School Swing Choir Director Luree Chappell.
“I really like performing on a stage and having that audience feedback right there, and it’s very difficult to do virtual because you’re not sure how people are reacting,” said Glasgow High School senior and Swing Choir member Cerenity Olsen.
“It’s definitely saddening because we can’t go out and have the rush of doing it one time in front of a live audience. It’s not quite the same,” said GHS junior and choir member McKenna Strommen.
But the kids also understand the need for safety.
“We want to do what’s best for our community and we don’t want to have people getting sick at our concerts,” said GHS senior and choir member Aubre Hartsock. “So it's better to be doing this than nothing because we are still able to get our performances out to our community.”
For 18 years, Chappell has directed the talented students. This year they went to work, developing a series of music videos to share virtually.
“One of them we did sock puppets, and one of them we did under a black light with makeup and stuff. And I love doing stuff like that and I love this group of kids and hanging out with them so I thought it was a blast,” said Glasgow High Senior and choir member Ian Wright.
A former student came up with the concept for the choir’s rendition of “Treat People with Kindness.”
“One of our friends that we play gigs with used to have a rock band and he did a music video with his band with sock puppets, very rudimentary and silly but he brought us that concept and I fell in love with it so we just went from there,” said Chappell.
Chappell chose all the music including a version of the Pink Floyd classic, “Wish You Were Here.”
“It just felt right for what we're all going through this year,” said Chappell. “It's a little dark but hopeful to see our loved ones and stuff, and I really think it spoke to people this year, especially around Thanksgiving.”
Originally the students wanted to do it at nearby Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs with movement in flowing clothes in the water shot by a drone, but COVID restrictions prevented the idea. They had enlisted the help of a film student who asked for video of the students singing covered by video of the kids in their everyday activities. Ian says the backup plan really captured the essence of what they were trying to achieve.
The video was dedicated to the memory of Brenna Sundby , a GHS teacher who passed away in October. A third video, “When the Party’s Over” made famous by Billie Eilish, captured the kids’ creativity
“I brought up to Luree that I wanted to do really fun makeup for one of them and then from there everyone in the class kind of pitched in different ideas of where we should do it and how we should do it under black lights and that one was just a big thing of all the students having their own creative ideas in it,” said Hartsock.
The pandemic forced some of the students to send in their contributions from home due to quarantine regulations. But that just seemed to reinforce the resiliency and ingenuity of the students.
“This whole pandemic won’t hold us down,” said Olsen.
“Even though we might not physically be able to come together, we are able to do things together and create things that can go out into the community,” said Hartsock.
“There’s nothing better to bring light than art and kids and I got the best of all worlds,” said Chappell.
While the group is looking forward to getting back together on stage for live performances, the creative videos may become a part of the choir’s repertoire.
While she never questioned the students singing ability, Chappell says she was amazed at how they took initiative. “I was out of class one day this year and my assignment while I was gone was to make a shortlist and a storyboard for “Treat People with Kindness,” said Chappell. “I had them submit it through google classroom and what they came up with was unbelievable. All of their concepts and the story they were creating. It really was easy to go and shoot scenes off of the list they came up with and the sets they built and their sock puppets they created to look like themselves. It was amazing.”
“Treat People with Kindness is dedicated “to a friend of the choir’s undergoing medical treatment.