Marching Band Returns to Socially Distanced Practices and Performances



Although adjustments have been made to ensure the safety and health of band members, many musicians are still excited to return to playing.
“I enjoy having something to wake up for, even if it’s at 6:00am in the freezing cold,” sophomore band member Hannah Park said. “I’m really excited about being able to see friends, especially people who I haven’t seen in months, and bond over the thing that got us closer to one another in the first place.”
Sophomore band member Paul Vu also shared his excitement for the upcoming marching band season.
“I honestly love every second of it. I get to hang out with the coolest of people and play good music,” Vu said. “Even through COVID-19, marching band has been super enjoyable, and I can’t wait for others to see the product of all our hard work.”
While marching band practices would, under normal circumstances, take place indoors, practice has been moved outdoors to accommodate for COVID-19 health protocols.
“I’ve actually felt safer [marching] on the field than in a regular classroom,” Park said. “We’ve been playing outside and extremely far away from one another, as well as wearing masks and filters that are specifically designed for our instruments…You can really tell a lot of effort has gone into making this work.”
According to UHS Instrumental Music Director Mr. Corey Heddon, the band department has been taking COVID-19 health and safety protocols very seriously, despite the obvious challenges.
“Rehearsals are structured very precisely, especially since there are very strict guidelines that have been set forth by the local health agencies,” Heddon said. “To play a wind instrument, you have to be twelve feet apart, have a bell cover, a face mask, and all be facing the same direction. When we’re spaced apart, every individual sounds very alone on the field. Sound is also a kind of density, so if you imagine spreading out all the sound sources, the sound doesn’t sound as strong, which is a big challenge.”
Regardless of the obstacles, the marching band is still working hard to prepare for upcoming events. “Our primary performances are the home football games,” Heddon said. “We’re preparing pep tunes; we’ll play the Star-Spangled Banner, the Fight Song, the Alma Mater; we have a small halftime show that’s primarily school spirit oriented. There’s a lot of band traditions that have to be passed down from one class to another, and we’re hoping to keep that continuity going.”
However, COVID-19 has also put a strain on the team setting that many band members enjoy. While many are excited for upcoming performances, there is still a disconnect between musicians.
“My personal experience with marching band is that it’s really the time you spend with people that makes marching band special,” sophomore Erik Zarskus said. “Because of COVID-19, [it’s] been pretty much impossible to experience the same level of companionship with fellow band members.”
Additionally, marching band practices have been reduced to a fraction of the usual seven hours a week spent working on pieces and formations. “We can’t waste minutes teaching things that would otherwise have taken days to learn before,” Park said. “For people who aren’t as familiar with the usual standard, it can be really tough. I just try to take as much personal responsibility as I can.”
Despite these unprecedented obstacles, marching band members are still finding ways to maintain a positive attitude. Not only are many excited to continue in-person practices, but students are also anticipating live performances.
“This year I’ve been looking forward to the football games because that’s the time that we get to really be who we are and perform for people,” Zarskus said. “After all the work you put into a show, the reward for me is really being able to bring it to an audience.”
The UHS Marching Trojan Regiment will be performing this coming Friday, March 26 as the UHS football team faces off against Northwood High School.