Marching through 2020

Marching+through+2020

Haven Lloyd and Avery Lockhart

Football season isn’t the only season that came to an end on Friday. The marching band also had their final performance Friday. Outside of the band room doors, few people know what the band actually does, all they know is they see them at the football games. This year, they may have even noticed that the band hasn’t been at any away games. COVID has affected the band more than most people would think.

To start with, the day to day of band class has likely changed more than any other class compared to pre-pandemic. For marching band, class is held outside most of the time. When the band is unable to practice outside –usually due to weather– class can’t be held in the band room due to social distancing protocols. Class is instead held in the auditorium with space between each student. Bell covers are required for every trumpet, mellophone, baritone, trombone and tuba to contain the aerosol coming from the instruments. 

“We’ve made it all the way through the marching season and we’ve not had any kind of outbreak here,” says Jimbo Crawford, the head director of bands at Karns High School. “Shows a lot for you guys following the rules, washing your hands, sanitizing your hands,wearing your mask when you’re supposed to wear your masks.” 

Friday nights are also very different for the band. In previous years, the football crowd could find the band in the stands, cheering loudly for the beavers. This year, however, the band must be seated in chairs that are measured six feet apart in the endzone because social distancing isn’t possible is the bleachers. The band is not allowed to travel to away games this year, cutting their number of performances in half. All of the competitions that the Karns Band planned on attending, as well as all other competitions in the area, were cancelled. This includes the Karns Marching Invitational, which is held at Karns High School and hosted by the Karns Band. 

“We’ve not seen another band all year, you know. The only band we’ve seen all year has been our own,” says Crawford.

Crawford emphasises the effect COVID will have on recruitment and retention while looking towards the future of the band. Upperclassmen know what they’re missing this year and that is what will bring them back, but freshmen might wonder if marching band is worth all of the effort for five performances in front of a bustling crowd of football spectators. They didn’t get to know the feeling of competing for the first time or thanking their chaperones and bus drivers as the band bus pulled into the school parking lot late at night. Another staple of the band is eighth grade night, which couldn’t happen this year. That night gives the eighth graders a taste of what high school band is like and influences their decision on whether they want to continue doing band after middle school or not.

While it is very easy to rattle off all of the negative effects of this pandemic, Crawford takes a second to look for the positives.

”It’s seen in the older students, not necessarily the younger students,” Crawford starts, “You don’t take for granted what it is you’re doing… You don’t realize that the last note you play in this room with your friends could be the last note you play in this room with your friends.” 

Besides the influence of the pandemic on the outlook of students, it gave the band room to experiment with a different genre of halftime music. 

 

“It gave us an opportunity to do a halftime show that we would’ve never in a million years done,” he states in reference to the show catered towards the football crowd.