Giving the proverb “the show must go on” a new meaning, band improvised a way to wear masks and play while adhering to state guidelines. After the State of Arkansas mandated masks in large gatherings, band obligated students to wear masks with horizontal slits in the middle when they are playing instruments like the clarinet or the flute.
“Masks becoming mandatory did not bother us. What bothers us now is that it is not easy to play your instrument with a mask on. You have to put a mouthpiece through a slit in the mask, which takes nearly 10 seconds to do. It is a pain. Slits are slightly customized for each instrument. I think wearing masks helps, and I believe in safety first for our students.” Band director Ron Lewis Said.
This allows players to play instruments such as clarinets, tubas, and flutes while still being able to maintain the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. To further limit the spread of COVID-19, band implemented many changes. These include, purchasing bell coverings for their instruments. These are coverings for the bells of instruments which are made of cloth materials approved by the Arkansas Department of Health. To play, students must have bell coverings on their instruments and wear their masks at all times. These changes serve the purpose of keeping the band in commission for as long as possible while helping students feel safe.
“At first, I was surprised when we had to cover our bells in order to play our instruments and cut holes in our masks. I thought doing things like that would defeat the purpose of wearing a mask entirely. However, we were told the Department of Health ran multiple tests to find the safest way to continue marching band. I’m just thankful that I get to perform at halftime one last time for my senior year,” senior Garret Hernandez said.
This year, instead of its usual flurry of motion, the marching show will be a “stand still show” where musicians stand in one place and play their instruments. Along with changing the marching show’s layout, band also shifted its music style. In the past, they exclusively used older music from labels like “Motown”. Now, under new leadership, band transitions to using more, modern pop hits such as songs by artists like “The Weeknd ” and “Lit”. With this change, students get the opportunity to experiment with new music.
“As a senior, I’m sad that COVID-19 has taken away our senior marching show. But, we have been playing more modern pop tunes for this year’s performances so I’m happy the music is reaching a larger, younger audience.” Senior Sarah Hubbard said.