Manitoba music teacher instils confidence, community through year-long online singing challenge, parody video

A Manitoba music teacher and her vocal students, who’ve performed on Instagram every day over the past year, have launched a parody video celebrating their one-year anniversary of learning over Zoom.

In a YouTube video posted to Heidi Korte’s page last Thursday, the private Winnipeg instructor and more than 30 of her students sing a parodied version of Opening Up from the musical Waitress.

“The day starts like the rest we’ve seen, another carbon copy of an old routine,” Korte begins the upbeat song, which she co-wrote with Janelle Forrester, Iris Bjornson and Ainsley Beveridge.

Over the course of the video, Korte and three students sing the tune’s main lyrics over a Zoom call with the help of a choir of other students, their faces dotting the screen as they would in a large conference call — some at one point fading out to words reading, “Reconnecting …”

“We had so much fun doing that,” Korte said in a Monday interview with Marcy Markusa on CBC Radio’s Information Radio.

Around this time a year ago, the pandemic was shutting down music and singing lessons. However, Korte resolved to continue teaching — online.

“I just decided that ‘Not us,'” she said. “We were gonna sing through the pandemic.”

On April 15 last year, Korte began having her students post song recordings to Instagram every day. Initially, the challenge received some hesitancy, but eventually students shifted from “terror” to “confidence.”

“It’s become something really unique,” said Korte. “You can also see the confidence brewing in them and the community as we went on through the months and months and months.”

“Some of those things weren’t always wonderful, but we didn’t miss a day.”

Korte said many students worried about making mistakes in public, but she gradually mentored those struggling with nerves by showing them music was a gift meant to be shared.

“Having people see that you’re not perfect is a real big fear of music students, and it’s something that I talk about a lot as a teacher,” she said.

Throughout the Instagram challenge, Korte also collected and posted their blooper videos to her studio’s account highlights.

“A lot of time in my students’ minds, they’re the only ones who make mistakes,” said Korte. “The fact that everyone started sending in their bloops and their funnies somehow created even more sense of safety.”

She said she’s about 40,000 words into penning a book about mental health for creatives, which will include stories from her students.

“This year of students has gotten a really unique and special experience actually through this singing every day,” Korte said.

“I would hope that they love music for the rest of their lives. My goal is that they would never stop playing, that they would never stop singing.”