Singing in a virtual wonderland

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cassville first-graders perform Christmas program virtually

The annual tradition of family and friends gathering at the school to hear their children singing their favorite holiday carols looked quite different this year, however, Cassville parents still heard the Christmas music of their first-graders in a virtual Christmas program.

Shelby Long, Cassville intermediate music teacher, put in hours with her students and hours with her computer to make the program possible.

The program was put on the school’s Youtube and Facebook pages on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

“The virtual programs came to mind after watching other music teachers from around our country and the world posting similar things,” she said. “[It started] last spring when schools shut down and they were doing virtual concerts with their online students programs.”

Long saw these videos and thought Cassville students deserved something as special for missing their in-person concerts last spring. 

“For my first-grade students, I really wanted them to have at least a virtual concert program since their kindergarten program got cancelled last spring due to school closure,” Long said. “It was a huge thing they were practicing in kindergarten. Then, a couple weeks before their performance date, school gets canceled.”

Upon coming back to school this August, Long’s first-grade students asked often if they could make it up after all the time off.

“With scheduling and other factors, we were hopeful for a Christmas performance,” she said. “[We knew] it might not have been in person, but even on camera, performing for their loved ones was such a blessing and such a joy as their music teacher.”

Long decided to take action and make sure her students got to perform for their loved ones, and they all learned a little more about virtual events and technology in the process.

“As much as I was out of the loop in being ‘cool,’ as my students called me out, they thought it was so cool that they were ‘YouTubers,’” she said. “I have heard from some of my third-grade parents after their virtual Veterans Day program, they enjoyed seeing some normalcy for the students and were excited to see their students performing in any aspect.”

Long hopes the first-grade parents are even more excited and joyful seeing their students’ first big performance — virtual or in person. 

“The planning process has been similar to in-person programs or concerts,” she said. “I still rehearsed the students and planned a program as normal as I could for their learning experience, and taught them what to expect and the expected behaviors of a live performance in front of an audience.”

The organizing and back-stage planning is where Long was least prepared for when she did her first virtual concert this year, the third-grade Veterans Day Program.

“I was not aware of how little I knew about video editing and had to teach myself quickly what I was doing,” she said. “Each one of my programs took between 35 to 45 hours, outside of videotaping during class, to edit them and get them ready to show to the parents.

“Thankfully, with our first-grade program I gave myself more time between filming and releasing the video.” 

Long said she could not be more proud of her students for overcoming this different year in music.

“I never would have thought I’d become a video editor as part of my job,” she said. “But, these kids have truly made it worth adding the hours after my school days end. The excitement and joy they have when they watch the finished virtual concerts is so amazing to see.”

Long is proud of the work her students have put into the program.

“They have put in even more effort with this than I have seen others put into live performances,” she said. “I hope the students are just as proud of the work as I am. They deserve all the praise for the job well done.”

In just a few short hours after the program had been posted, the parents and community seemed to enjoy seeing the students’ performances.

“I hope my students know how proud I am of them and the hard work it truly takes to put into a virtual concert,” Long said. “I’ve taught them differently this year than before, and when we do a performance virtually, we have to work a bit harder to make it the best we can since people can now watch it multiple times and share with many different people. In a live performance there is more forgiveness on mistakes and hiccups.

“The amazing performances show just how hard they truly worked on their concert.”

The first-graders’ virtual Christmas program can be viewed at, https://tinyurl.com/yc7drxk9.

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