The Severna Park High School marching band is ready for a 2020 season like they’ve never seen before. During the four-week season, they are focusing on conditioning for 90 minutes, two days a week. The season began on October 21 and will end on November 11.
Although they will practice physical distancing and wear masks and other protective equipment, many students, including Severna Park senior Erik Binnix, are just excited to have a season at all.
“It means a lot because I was pretty upset when the initial announcement came out that the season was going to be canceled,” said Binnix, who is the marching band’s drum major. “Hearing that we now get some sort of season is great for everyone in the marching band, but especially for me and the other seniors.”
Following a period of uncertainty, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education announced a modified band season in mid-October.
The board mandated that all bands had to invest in personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks with openings that allow students to play their instruments, face shields, bell covers to cover the hole on brass instruments, and instrument bags for woodwind instruments. This will protect students from aerosol and water vapor while they play. In addition to the new equipment, students also have to stay six feet apart and answer COVID screening questions before they are allowed to step on the field.
Though the planning process was not easy, marching band director Eric Kilby said he is glad students are getting a marching band season, even if it isn’t quite what they had in mind.
“It's great to see them all versus being on the other side of a computer screen,” said Kilby. “As a band or orchestra director, you get into the job because you like interacting with the kids and you like working with them as an ensemble. Having a computer in between you and them makes things very difficult.”
For the freshmen and sophomores who are joining the band this year, this season is especially important. It gives students the opportunity to learn the basics so they aren’t behind at the start of the next season.
“I assume this is very interesting for them and I hope we can make it a positive experience for them,” said Binnix. “I hope that the only thing that separates this from a normal season is the fact that we have to stay six feet apart and wear masks.”
While they await the shipment of PPE, the band is spending the first few practices learning marching band fundamentals such as posture, positions and movements.
“They can’t really work on the marching stuff alone,” said Kilby. “Marching band is a group activity. Having the time outside and spending it learning the basics is kind of the priority.”
Without football and competitions, Kilby is determined to make the most out of this season for the students.
“Band, just like sports, we have a competition and a performance element that happens at the end,” said Kilby. “That's a big motivator for the kids. In this situation, we don't have the pay off at the end. We really have to do our best to make sure the kids stay motivated to do the activity.”
For seniors, like Binnix, this season is especially important, as it is the last time many of them will play as an ensemble.
“I am so grateful to have this opportunity and for all of the work put in by our adult volunteers, Mr. Kilby and the students, for their dedication to maintaining all of the precautions,” said Binnix. “It feels great to see them all in person again and get out of the house.”
The Broadneck High School marching band has also kicked off a 2020 mini season.
“Although there are currently no competitions or football games, we’re excited to give the students a small taste of normalcy,” said band director Matt Heist. “The social network and sense of family within the Broadneck marching band is a priority, so I’m glad we can provide some time for students to be with each other.”