By Elizabeth Nguyen
Garnet Valley Marching Band is kicking off this fall season with their show “Quarantunes”, featuring three different songs including “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Mic Drop”, and “Holiday”. More importantly, GVMB is starting and continuing their program with detailed safety protocols against COVID-19. My name is Lizzy Nguyen, section leader of the front ensemble, and here’s a look inside what GVMB is doing to keep running despite the pandemic.
To start, let’s talk about admittance. Before every single session, each and every band member gets in line for an exam. This exam involves a temperature screening and prerequisite questions – if one member of the car doesn’t pass, the entire car goes home. After passing the screening, you’re given a colored wristband for the day and sent to go forward. For members who don’t feel comfortable attending rehearsals in-person, Zoom meetings are streamed during block, sectionals, and ensemble to keep everyone up to date and able to engage.
Luckily, the nature of marching band itself makes social distancing a breeze. Everything is outdoors, so spacing and adequate ventilation are already part of the package. In block, where we take attendance and learn marching basics, everyone is at least 6 feet apart on all sides if not more. A sanitation station is set up right next to the drum major stand for student use, and all consumables are not to be shared. During transitions, parents are even stationed in between gathering areas to guarantee social distancing as students walk to and from the parking lot.
During sectionals, when individual sections go and practice on their own instead of together in ensemble, the entire campus is fair game. For example, our front ensemble (or “pit”) exclusively rehearses on the curb in front of the outdoor cafeteria tables. Far on the other side of the curb near the 2020 Center, the saxes practice and on so forth. Within each section, each member is at least 6 feet apart and staff members check in every now and then to ensure that distancing is properly implemented. With regard to the countless studies that stress the importance of preventing aerosol transmission, wind instruments even have specially designed bell covers and face masks.
By the time ensemble (when all sections play together) rolls around, the same protocols are in place. Even while performing the show itself, social distancing manifests itself as a typical spaced-out drill for marchers or a wide set-up for the pit out front. After the last run, rehearsal ends for the day at 8:30 and everyone packs up to go home. When members such as those from low brass or pit have to go inside the band room, a maximum of 2-3 are allowed in at one time to avoid too much contact in a closed area.
Our marching band takes pride in keeping its members safe in a world with COVID-19. By adjusting the way we do things to protocols issued by our administration, our band presents its members with an opportunity for fun and socialization in a relatively controlled environment. Although conventional performance venues such as football games and band competitions may not be available this season, our director Dr. Selfridge is keeping his eyes peeled for opportunities to share our show. Stay safe and stay posted for more!