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Nichole Dechaine discusses day-to-day life as a local music professor and concert soloist during the ongoing pandemic 

click to enlarge PROLIFIC SINGER Lompoc resident and Allan Hancock College professor Nichole Dechaine (pictured) has sung for countless choirs, ensembles, and orchestras from around the country—and abroad as well—over the years. In March, she'll be singing for the San Luis Chamber Orchestra as a featured soloist.

Photo Courtesy Of Nichole Dechaine

PROLIFIC SINGER Lompoc resident and Allan Hancock College professor Nichole Dechaine (pictured) has sung for countless choirs, ensembles, and orchestras from around the country—and abroad as well—over the years. In March, she'll be singing for the San Luis Chamber Orchestra as a featured soloist.

Entranced by movie musicals from a young age, Nichole Dechaine spent her childhood belting out her favorite show tunes—but she had to be sneaky about it.

"I had two little brothers that weren't very enthusiastic about it. So I used to go in my room and kind of sing into a pillow, or sing in the backyard on a swing," the Lompoc resident said.

Dechaine didn't let her brothers stop her from pursuing her passion though. She didn't let discouragement from a teacher get to her either.

"When I was in junior high, I auditioned to be in the choir, and the choir director said I couldn't sing," Dechaine said. "It kind of made me determined to do it. I'm gonna sing in spite of this."

To date, Dechaine has sung for several choirs, ensembles, and orchestras from around the country—and abroad as well. In March, she'll be singing for the San Luis Chamber Orchestra as a featured soloist.

click to enlarge DROP THE MIC Nichole Dechaine is currently the choir director at St. Mark's in the Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos. Over the years, she's collaborated with several local choirs and ensembles throughout her career, including the Santa Ynez Valley High School Choirs (pictured). - PHOTO COURTESY OF NICHOLE DECHAINE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Nichole Dechaine
  • DROP THE MIC Nichole Dechaine is currently the choir director at St. Mark's in the Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos. Over the years, she's collaborated with several local choirs and ensembles throughout her career, including the Santa Ynez Valley High School Choirs (pictured).

The upcoming concert—originally scheduled for January but postponed due to COVID-19 concerns—will be one of the singer's first Central Coast-held performances that takes place north of Santa Barbara County.

"It's kind of fun for me to leave Santa Barbara and go up north a little bit," Dechaine said. "This is my first sort of venture up into northern counties. I'm really excited about it."

The Santa Barbara County-based groups Dechaine has previously collaborated with include the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, Lompoc Master Chorale, Lompoc Pops Orchestra, Santa Barbara Choral Society, and Santa Barbara Master Chorale. She's currently the choir director at St. Mark's in the Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.

Dechaine also teaches voice and music classes at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, where she started working near the end of 2019.

"I only had one full semester in person, and then the pandemic hit. So I've taught more hybrid and online than I've taught in person," said Dechaine, who said she finds herself constantly adapting and adjusting to new teaching styles, even two years later.

"I actually like it. I feel like there are definitely some advantages to teaching this way," she said of holding virtual classes through Zoom. "I feel like, in a lot of ways, I got to know my students better, because, you know, you're in their homes, and you're seeing lots of stuff going on.

"I feel like we had more one-on-one conversations that they might not have felt comfortable having in a big classroom full of people," Dechaine said.

click to enlarge ALL TOGETHER NOW "You cannot do music over Zoom, it's impossible. You want to make music together, you want those sounds to blend," said Nichole Dechaine, who Zoomed with her Allan Hancock College students one-on-one and gradually compiled individual performances into a virtual whole. - SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE
  • Screenshot From YouTube
  • ALL TOGETHER NOW "You cannot do music over Zoom, it's impossible. You want to make music together, you want those sounds to blend," said Nichole Dechaine, who Zoomed with her Allan Hancock College students one-on-one and gradually compiled individual performances into a virtual whole.

When it comes to performing music together as a class, Dechaine found a way to work around Zoom's "obvious disadvantages."

"You cannot do music over Zoom, it's impossible. You want to make music together, you want those sounds to blend," said the instructor, who Zoomed with students one-on-one and gradually compiled individual performances into a virtual whole.

"I learned to become a video and audio editor and engineer and put together these virtual choir projects where you see all the little boxes, everyone's singing together," Dechaine said.

The virtual compilations are available to view on Dechaine's YouTube channel, along with a recording of the Hancock choir's most recent in-person choir concert, a collaborative recital with Santa Barbara City College held in Los Olivos in December.

Dechaine also teaches music history at Hancock, where she's experienced some role reversing between her students, she explained.

"I feel like I'm very current with music because I'm learning a lot from my students every semester," said Dechaine, who revealed some of her own music tastes that you might not assume from a first impression.

"Sometimes I'm just singing some Metallica, 'Enter Sandman,' or some old-school metal, or belting Adele songs, or whatever it is," she said. Δ

Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood's favorite Adele song is 'Skyfall.' Send your faves to cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

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