Glenbrook North teacher makes choir less remote

  • Glenbrook North choir director Kelsey Nichols has found a creative way to teach remotely this fall.

      Glenbrook North choir director Kelsey Nichols has found a creative way to teach remotely this fall. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted9/15/2020 6:00 AM

This isn't the first time Glenbrook North choir director Kelsey Nichols made the news. But it is the best time.

The story of Nichols' YouTube video that debuted Aug. 18, "Choir (Without Choir)," made Channel 2 CBS Chicago and then was picked up by outlets including Yahoo and MSN.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nichols' video, recorded from her school classroom and her home, uses 41 cuts between scenes and details in song the travails of teaching -- and learning -- her subject through remote learning.

Or, as she sang in her own lyrics to the tune of Demi Lovato's "Sorry (Not Sorry)": "Doing the best that we can through Zoom/singing our songs in your living room."

"We're doing our best," Nichols said. "I think we can rise to the occasion. And, mostly, this is all about the students. We love our students so much, and we are willing to go above and beyond to make this a good experience for them."

One of two Glenbrook North choir directors along with Chad Davidson, Nichols is in her fourth year at the school. In her prior position as a choir teacher at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, her show choir made national news when the group's bus caught on fire on the way to a competition in Wisconsin. During winter.

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This is way better than that.

Glenbrook North choir director Kelsey Nichols has found creative ways to teach her students music remotely this fall.
  Glenbrook North choir director Kelsey Nichols has found creative ways to teach her students music remotely this fall. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

"Myself and (Davidson) are trying to make creative memories for our students to help them feel connected and supported through this process," said Nichols, who sang in an a cappella group at the University of Illinois.

Though students have been attending school through e-learning just since Aug. 19, she said Zoom has enabled her "to emphasize different parts of the musicianship" that she might otherwise not have time to fully address. Performance, music theory and composition are among those topics.

A current assignment is for students to create a "music identity playlist." They're asked to compose an online slideshow presentation of songs that are meaningful to them, then write a paragraph explaining why. Students submit the full slideshow and read their paragraphs to classmates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Former One Direction singer Harry Styles has been on heavy rotation, but Nichols was particularly taken by the student who expressed his feelings for the Korean national anthem.

"That helps students get to know each other on a different level," Nichols said of the identity playlist.

This school year, anything that personalizes the learning experience, including a snappy video, will help.

"At least my students seem to have the outlook that we can make this work, and we'll be OK," Nichols said.

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