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Milwaukee voice teachers start social media campaign to boost singing organizations

The four-week campaign comes to a close Friday.
Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:58:16-04

MILWAUKEE — The performing arts was and continues to be impacted greatly through the pandemic, and even more so for those singing.

While safety precautions are in place, some things are just not the same.

"Unfortunately, singing was one activity that had some of the biggest risk for spreading COVID," Milwaukee Children's Choir Executive Director Bill Busch said.

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An instructor teaching a student while following safety guidelines.

Busch said singing and making music is such an important way to express emotion, and after a difficult year, an outlet for children.

"So many people have turned to music as a solace, and basically really for their mental health," Busch said.

Bel Canto Chorus Managing Director Kate Schmitt said the group is celebrating its 90th anniversary, in a time where everything is different.

"It's called a singer's mask. It actually has a cage that goes around, so when we wear it, if you ever see one of our concerts, we kind of look like ducks," Schmitt said with a laugh.

Beyond just that, both organizations say they do anywhere from a dozen or more performances a year. But this year they've only been able to do two virtual concerts.

While they're happy they get to do what they love, the financial burden can take its toll, after more than a year of going through the pandemic.

Schmitt said the group has lost between $150,000 to $200,000 over the course of the past season that runs from September to May.

Now, during such a tough time, a passion project emerged. Milwaukee Sings was born after three local voice teachers saw a need in their community.

"With the pandemic, a lot of singing has stopped, and we want to bring that back," Co-founder of MKE sings Nina Johnston said. "We want to bring back masks and singing and we're really excited about that."

So, they've collaborated with Milwaukee Children's Choir, Bel Canto Chorus, Milwaukee Choristers and the Master Singer of Milwaukee.

For the past month, Johnston and her team have been taking to social media to give vocal tips, educate people on different aspects of music, among other things.

They have also started selling MKE sings merchandise on their website to raise funds for each organization.

Johnston said to culminate the four-week campaign, she wants to see a community-wide challenge to fill social media platforms Friday using #MKEsings to celebrate World Voice Day.

"I think world singing day is just really a great way to highlight that and to put the focus on vocal music, and to encourage people to continue singing and lifting their voices together in song," Busch said.

"It brings a lot of joy. It will bring a smile to your face and hopefully maybe a little bit of dance in your household," Johnston said.

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