Senior Amber Blevins on Becoming a Substitute Teacher and Drum Major during COVID-19

Playing her trumpet while wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 wasn’t exactly what Amber Blevins, a senior majoring in Music Education, had in mind for her final semester at Emory & Henry College. However, she is willing to work through these obstacles in order to continue doing the activities she loves.

Remaining healthy is a priority for Blevins. Though she is back to work for spring 2021, she took a break from classes the previous semester due to concerns about COVID-19. The break was beneficial, as she got to work as a substitute choir teacher for John Battle High School.

“I did that for the majority of the semester,” she said. “When I took the semester off, I took on a tutoring position at the middle school, actually, and then the choir director, they were getting ready to transition back into in-person stuff, and she was like ‘I don’t want to do this!’ So, the principal came to me, like, ‘You could work!’”

The curriculum Blevins taught focused on subjects such as music history and genre projects instead of actual singing in order to prevent a COVID outbreak.

Blevins is also preparing to step into the role of Drum Major for the Emory & Henry College Marching Band. She expressed that, due to the ongoing pandemic, she didn’t get the opportunity to train as much as a drum major typically would

“It’s been tricky. Normally we always have leadership camps, and kind of get our ducks in a row if you will, beforehand. This time, we didn’t really get to do that because we didn’t start rehearsing stuff before Christmas. We just started this semester,” she said.

She says that filling the leadership roles of both a drum major and a teacher during an untraditional school year has been a learning experience.

“I’ve definitely had to … learn as I go a lot. I’ve had to just stay on my toes and stay ahead,” she said.

Blevins feels fortunate that her education classes haven’t been impacted by the virus. She was able to prepare for her senior recital virtually with the help of Dr. Frederick, Associate Provost and Director of Bands at E&H.

“Dr. Matt Frederick and Dr. Sandy Frederick are like my Emory parents. They have definitely taken care of me. Sandy Frederick is the one who got me both of my jobs last semester when I took it off, so they definitely are there for me,” she explained.
Blevins is excited to show off her and the band’s hard work with an entertaining halftime show when the football games begin in March.

“For our halftime show, Dr. Frederick really wanted to bring a message about togetherness,” she stated. “The first piece we’re playing is ‘Into the Unknown’ from Frozen II, that’s our opener. Our second tune is ‘We’re all in this Together’ from High School Musical, and our last tune is ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles.”
Both the concert band’s performance and Blevins senior recital will be available to view online later this semester.