Music Programs Changed During the Pandemic

Many students join band their middle school years and continue on through high school. That’s to say that students love performing in band. But practicing our musical instruments during a pandemic has been difficult.  

“It has been very hard for me to go to my daughter’s concerts and competitions, but they were very cautious about this pandemic and they had everyone separated,” David Cuevas said, father of Thalia Cuevas, eighth grader at Corbett Junior High. 

For the band, these guidelines led to shorter practices and practicing in small groups organized by instrument rather than as a whole, while remaining at least six feet apart. For example, the clarinet players would practice together for half an hour while the trombone players did the same on the other side of the field. 

“I feel like the band directors have faced a lot of problems and challenges through this tough time. In my opinion, the most hardest challenge would be keeping social distance and wearing the mask at all times,” Cuevas said. 

Students have been required to wear face masks when they’re not blowing through their horns. Their instruments have been outfitted with bell covers that similarly restrict the flow of aerosols to those around them.

“I think that the most hardest thing would be the mask, because it is kind of hard to breathe. Whenever you’re playing you need a lot of air and it’s really hard when you’re trying to breathe through a mask all day. I also feel that social distancing has been very hard as well, because when you’re in marching band you go all over the field and it’s really hard when you can’t get close to each other so you have to be very careful,” Kayla Cuevas, 12th grader said. 

Traditional uniforms that require dry cleaning have been ditched in favor of T-shirts that can easily be washed between performances. And instructional schedules have been condensed because of cancellations of spring and summer activities.

“Research on the safety of musical performances is ongoing and we will continue to consult and respond to research that updates our understanding of the safety of various practices and instruments associated with the marching band,” said Mr. Barker, Corbett Band Director. 

“Our band directors try the very best to make sure that we’re taking all safety precautions. They will tell us when to put on a mask when you take off her mask, and I feel like they are doing an amazing job as far as keeping social distancing and making sure we are all wearing a mask,” Cuevas said.  

Rather than taking their masks on and off in between songs, they open a Velcro flap on a special “musician mask” so they can play. They also put covers over the horns of their instruments to reduce the spit. 

The high school band members rehearse on the practice field during their class period and the middle school bands on other school property. Because of it all, they have fewer opportunities to perform, including at football games.