Collaboration and New Connections: The Surprising Benefits of Distancing

Posted on: September 5th, 2020 by Kathleen Hansen GALA Articles No Comments


March:  Uncertainty. Distance. Temporary?  Zoom.

April:  Flexibility. Pivoting. Giving up on pants. Virtual Choirs.  So. Much. Zoom.

May:  Unprecedented. Search for engagement.  ZOOOOOOM!

June: Long-term plans. Re-invention. Settling in.  Zzzzzz…

July:  New reality. Planning. Zoom. But also long walks, phone calls, innovation, and brainstorming.

My sister, Laura Compton, wrote the following (shared to social media), “You can spend your time wishing for the way it was, that’s just fine. Time will pass and you’ll keep on remembering and waiting and wishing.

You can spend your time adapting and making a new reality. Time will pass and you’ll keep on growing and creating.

Time doesn’t stop and it doesn’t go backward except in nostalgia and memories, so where do you want to be in an hour? A day? A week? A year?

Being away from one another – not being able to make music together – isn’t just hard. It’s painful, it’s unsettling, it’s detrimental. Plainly…it sucks. That said, when we look for the silver linings, we will find them. They are most certainly there.

Much to my surprise – one of the benefits of being apart from one another has emerged in the form of new connections we are making. As we search for new ideas to keep our musical ensembles engaged, a beautiful network has developed through the wide cast of the internet.

Like-minded directors are meeting via video chat to learn from one another, give and get support, ask questions, laugh, and definitely cry. Choruses are building collaborative performance projects. Virtual collectives are developing with the goals of teaching one another how to build virtual choirs, fundraise, learn and refine new skills. Video tutorials and webinars are popping up so we can walk together through the next steps.

In the process of shaping a new reality, I’ve found valuable new friends and colleagues that I may never have crossed paths with – or who would’ve just been passing acquaintances in the Before Times.  We are in an odd new reality, but we are in it together. Our collective creativity and passion will help buoy each other up when each of us will sink into moments of despair. Our new connections aren’t in our neighborhoods, but they are in our homes. You are right here in front of me – inside of my computer screen in close, poorly lighted, awkwardly-angled, you’re still on mute, Zoom-view. Vancouver, Tennessee, Costa Rica, Australia – all right here with me.

In one 36-hour period, I met with six different choirs doing video vocal coaching. 200+ people from New York, Ontario, San Francisco, Sweden, and New Zealand. We shared music, laughter, intentional connections and hope.

Hope: I was honored to be virtually present at the last socially distanced rehearsal with my friends in Christchurch, NZ. That week, their lockdown was lifted and they were cleared to meet in person for their next rehearsal – where they were once again able to finally wrap their arms and voices around one another.


Kathleen Hansen serves as the Artistic and Musical director of three choruses: The San Diego Women’s Chorus, The San Diego Chorus, and The Sun Harbor Chorus. Additionally, she serves as International Faculty for Sweet Adelines International as well as the GALA Choruses 411 Artistic Advisor.


Kathleen Hansen
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