Singing with heart: Variations


ZaZu Lippert

Singing valentines header
Photo illustration by ZaZu Lippert. Heart clipart used under under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Co-written by Himani Yalamaddi.

When you open the door to the choir room, you can hear perfect harmonies, fingers running down a piano and voices practicing their parts in the background. Then, they scoot over as a group to form a U-shape around a small chair. And they begin to sing.

This is the scene in the sixth period Variations class as they prepare for singing valentines, the schoolwide Valentines-exchange service organized annually by the choir program. As they work on getting those harmonies just right and slowly adding in choreography, they create a finished product that will make its way to classrooms all over campus on Monday, Feb. 13.

Here’s an inside look at Variations’ preparations for singing valentines, and a few seniors’ thoughts on the tradition.

Senior Saketh Kurnool sits for a minute, desperately trying to remember the name of his favorite valentines song of all time. He hums the tune before looking up triumphantly and saying “So Much In Love!”, the name of the song by the band All-4-One that his singing Valentines group sang last year.

Kurnool feels that as a senior, he’s taken on more of a leadership role with singing valentines this year, helping more with the organization of practices and choreography.

The song he’s most looking forward to singing this year is “I Swear,” also arranged by All-4-One.

It’s just…” he trailed off, searching for the right word to describe the song. “Sexy. It has that sort of vibe.”

For Kurnool, singing valentines is something he both looked forward to every year in choir and knows that he will look back on when he graduates.

“The experience of working in a close-knit a cappella group is definitely something I will miss,” he said. “Because the music is good, and the people are good, and the experience is really really great, especially once it all comes together.”

Here’s a sneak peek of the group practicing “I Swear” by All-4-One during a practice session:


Senior Saagar Godithi’s favorite part of singing valentines is bonding with the rest of his a cappella group. He believes that his favorite song he will ever do for singing valentines is one from this year, “Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake. The song is good for choreography: an often overlooked aspect of singing valentines, but one that can make or break the performance.

“The singing is what we really focus on,” he said, “But the choreography is what puts it on top.”

A sneak peek of the group practicing their medley version of Ariana Grande’s Honeymoon Avenue and Love on Top.


Senior Veda Ashok has been doing singing valentines for six years, the first three in middle school and the last three at MVHS. She believes that though the process (and quality) of the work produced may have changed, the great experience she’s had bonding with her singing valentines groups and working creatively with them has never changed.

What Ashok enjoys the most about singing valentines is the flexibility it allows groups to choose and play around with songs as they wish. To Ashok, the environment of the groups — casual and close-knit — allows for individuality and artistry to surface beyond the more structured environment of a traditional choir.

The music that Ashok’s group chose for singing valentines this year — featuring throwback tracks from artists like Soulja Boy, Rihanna and a mashup of Justin Bieber — reflects the freedom that singing valentines groups have, from deciding music to matching it up with the various voices in the group.

“We’re literally given time to put together something and just make it our own,” Ashok said, “I love that we’re able to express ourselves that way while spending time with each other for a fun cause.”

Here’s a sneak peek of Ashok’s group practicing “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” by Soulja Boy.