Behind the Scenes: Singing Valentines

Exploring the process behind putting together Singing Valentines

Monta Vista’s Variations and Bella Voce choirs celebrated Valentine’s Day on Feb 13. by carrying out their annual tradition of Singing Valentines. The week before, students and staff could purchase Singing Valentines, which included a card made by La Pluma, MV’s art magazine, and an acapella performance for the recipient.

The Variations and Bella Voce members began preparations in December, forming groups and picking out songs to perform during their second meeting. According to senior and Variations member Ambhranee Yakkundi, Singing Valentines is an entirely student-run program. Yakkundi’s group decided on a decades theme and chose three songs to perform, the first being “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA. 

Senior Joshua John, who worked alongside Yakkundi in the same group, shared that the group’s main agenda was to select songs centered around love following the theme of Valentine’s Day. John and his group prepared by breaking down the musical arrangement into subsections and dividing them amongst the group — after practicing their parts individually, the group would sing everything together.

According to junior and Variations member Advait Ramakrishnan, the earlier practices for Singing Valentines involved coming up with the group’s theme and creating arrangements for their chosen songs. His group chose  “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston, “Electric Love” by BORNS and “Locked Away” by R. City. In addition, groups came up with costume ideas and choreography to supplement their singing. 

“We all thought of possible themes that would work in a group, and we ended up deciding on Oompa Loompas,” Ramakrishnan said. “For choreo, we looked at our songs and analyzed the lyrics, [then] decided what choreo would fit the lyrics.”

Yakkundi shared that in practicing for Singing Valentines, each group would share their progress and perform in front of the class every Friday. She remembers looking forward to the progress checks, as the cooperative nature encouraged bonding within the class.

“[It] was really fun because we got to see everyone else’s songs,” Yakkundi said. “Our teacher gave us feedback, everyone else gave us feedback too and it was just a really nice collaborative thing.”

Although John had a largely positive experience with preparing for and performing Singing Valentines, he says that it did have challenges, with a big one being combining different parts of vocal arrangements and making them cohesive. Ramakrishnan echoed the sentiment, citing coordinating group meetings and planning as another challenge. 

Eventually, after a week of sales in the rally court and numerous in-class and outside of class practices, the day arrived. On Feb. 13, Ramakrishnan describes how the choir classes met in the morning to get into costume and get ready to receive their assignments. 

“As soon as each period started, Ms. Young gave us all the envelopes and lollipops and we would go to each class and sing,” said Ramakrishan. “Usually all the songs would take about the entire period, then we’d do it all again.”

This year, Variations and Bella Voce sold 395 valentines, just reaching their cap of 400 that they set. Junior Jeesun Yoo recalls working on a physics assignment with her groupmates, as a group of singers in multi-colored shirts entered the room. Yoo reflected on her experience of getting a singing valentine in her sixth period physics class, describing how she made her way to a chair in the center of the room. After being handed a card and a lollipop, a group of singers around her began.

“It was kinda embarrassing; at first I was reading the card I got but when they were singing I was kinda just staring at the ground the whole time,” Yoo said. “I don’t know, it was an interesting experience, but I probably wouldn’t want to receive one again.”

Despite their difficulties while preparing and practicing, John, Ramakrishnan and Yakkundi all say their experience with Singing Valentines was extremely positive. All three members took away their own enjoyable experiences from the day, and Yakkundi states that the reactions of the recipients and the students alike all added to the spirit of the day as a whole.

 “[My favorite part was] the actual day of, going around to each class and seeing the different reactions of the people in the chair and the people in the class,” Yakkundi said. “And just doing everything together was really fun.”

Ramakrishnan had a similar experience, also expressing his appreciation for the time that he spent bonding with the rest of his group and performing songs that he enjoyed.

“One of my favorite songs to perform was ‘Beautiful Girls’ by Sean Kingston,” Ramakrishnan said. “We had the whole day off, overall it was really fun to go to different classes to sing with our theme and spend time with our groups.”