The Symphonic Band 2 class begins to walk outside after gathering their instruments, sheet music, stands, chairs and jackets. This is one of many precautions they must take to protect themselves from COVID-19.
According to music director Johnny Erdman, the music department has had to adapt to a multitude of COVID-19 guidelines, yet classes have remained fairly normal.
“The biggest change is we’re outside. Normally, in our band classes, we’re in the music room, and we do our warm-ups or fundamentals and start working on pieces. Fortunately, we’re still doing that. We’re just outside,” Erdman said. “We’re just hiding under the overhang avoiding the rain.”
Senior and Symphonic Band 2 student Naomi Smith said the COVID-19 guidelines have only made preparing to play instruments outside take longer than normal.
“The main issue with this (the COVID guidelines) is that band takes longer to start because we have to haul out all the racks of chairs and stands to the front of the cafeteria, but we solved that just by knowing how many racks we need and sending multiple people to go get them,” Smith said.
Erdman said if the band classes wished to play inside, they would need special equipment to keep themselves safe. This special equipment includes unique, double-layered masks designed to play an instrument and bell covers, which keep the spit from a player’s instrument from being projected around the room.
“The bell covers are essentially a facemask for your instrument: it’s got an elastic strap on it that you put around the end of your instrument. They catch all the aerosol germs and disease and all that gross stuff that our facemasks catch,” Erdman said. “There’s also the band version of a face mask that’s basically got a second layer on it. There’s a hole on the first layer so you can play, and you just lift up the flap so your instrument can slide right underneath. You can play, and then as soon as you pull away, it covers your mouth.”
These equipment are on backorder due to high demand, so the band classes must stay outdoors.
As for choir, students remain indoors and sing with masks on. Sophomore and Concert Choir 2 student Lana Satana said the choir class has not changed drastically otherwise.
“The general energy and structure of class hasn’t changed. Musicians are all really supportive of each other and we really understand each other, so it’s easy for us to build a community,” Satana said. “Structurally, classes are usually the same every day. On Mondays we’ll do music theory and learn more about music as a subject, and the rest of the week is dedicated to learning music and having fun.”
Satana believes while the COVID guidelines are a definite hardship, they are a necessary step to ensuring safety.
“While the guidelines make sense, it can be frustrating sometimes having to sing while wearing masks,” Satana said. “However, Mr. Erdman is a great teacher, and he really helps us learn how to adapt to changes well, which is why I think the music department has been doing quite well despite the circumstances.”
Erdman acknowledged that he and many students believe that any chance to play as a group is better than regressing into playing behind a screen.
“I think I can speak for all the kiddos that we’re so excited that music’s back, that performing’s back,” Erdman said. “For now, I think the mindset for all the music students is that anything is better being on a computer, stuck at home. We’ve all been pretty willing to adapt, even if that means we have to bring an extra jacket to play outside.”