How E&H’s Marching Band is Handling COVID-19

The Emory & Henry Marching band pre-Covid restrictions.

The Emory & Henry Marching band pre-Covid restrictions.

From a trip to Rome to quarantine, the band had to grasp a new concept of life. It would not be fair for them to have to stop in their tracks as long as there is a solution. Therefore, the band has taken precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still being able to practice.

When it comes to rehearsals, everyone in the band is wearing their masks and practicing social distancing. The band director, Dr. Matthew Fredrick, bought everyone in the band special performance masks at the beginning of the semester. These masks have slits in the front to allow wearers to play without taking them off. The group is also fortunate to have a large enough building for them to be able to appropriately distance themselves. Keeping campus common areas clean is also important to prevent the spread of the disease, so the members of the band make sure to wipe their stands and seats with disinfecting wipes at the end of each practice.

For the instruments, the band is following “newly accepted research protocols for COVID mitigation in instrumental ensembles,” as Frederick stated, such as using puppy training pads to catch the spit from bass instruments so it does not land on the floor and using what Frederick called “triple layer bell covers to stop the possibility of aerosols entering the space through the bells of our instrument.” To limit interaction, no one is to share anything nor leave their instruments in a community area.

Sophomore student Amy Cole has the opportunity to reside on campus during this semester while working with the band. Cole stated “I’m not too bothered by the changes mainly because I understand that we are doing what we can given the circumstances.”

Typically, the marching band would practice during the fall semester—instead, they transitioned to concert band, which is usually during the spring. Fredrick said there is no full field show being prepared at this time; however, he stated that marching band students plan to return early in the spring semester to have a “ jump start on the football and also basketball band seasons.” As the steady increase of cases on campus puts a halt on all athletic activities, it is not certain that they will be able to perform during the football season, if there even is one.

The concert band is currently in the process of recording two projects: one includes a compilation from West Side Story. They plan to have a video of their work or perform a virtual concert in mid-November and the Christmas season to stay away from having a large in-person event.

Although the active number of cases on campus continues to rise the band does not plan on having any further changes. Everything that they have been doing is working well for them. If the campus happens to shut down again, there is a virtual band program to be utilized. Some of the remote students are currently operating under this system.