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High school marching bands feel impact of pandemic heading into football season

High school marching bands feel impact of pandemic heading into football season
Posted at 5:38 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 17:38:05-04
(WXYZ) —

As football teams across the state prepare for the fall season, another fall tradition may be silent.

Some schools have canceled the marching band season while others are trying to find ways to keep the music playing while keeping students and staff safe. Some using face coverings and instrument coverings.

Marching Band competitions have been canceled both in state and out of state. After discussing with parents, Novi High School Band Director Matt Diroff was determined to find a way to keep the marching band playing.

“If you don’t do something for a year you lose all those skills those kids are learning for down the road as well," Diroff said. "It can be a two- or three-year impact when you lose that one year of experience."

It’s been a rocky road coming up with a plan.

“I have to be very flexible at times because we would plan for certain things, but then the regulations would change so we have to change plans last minute," says high school senior and Head Drum Major Kate Lee. "And we have to make sure it’s all safe and socially distanced and make sure communications is out to every section and that everyone is staying safe.”

Marching Band practices are half days instead of full days and students are required to wear masks, unless they are playing a horn or woodwind instrument. In that case, the instruments wear masks of sorts.

“What we’ve done is implement covers for the ends of the instruments,” Diroff said.

In hopes that as students expel breath into their instrument a beautiful sound will be all that fills the air as they play. It's one more step they hope will help prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Students are spaced 7 and a half feet apart and placed in groups of 30 or less around the Novi High School campus.

“We’ve got a couple of our groups at the stadium, a couple of our groups at the front of the school, we’ve got a couple of our groups on the practice fields,” says Diroff, to ensure no more than 100 people are in the same space at one time.

Playing an instrument and marching is more than just about learning a skill.

“The emotion that goes a long with it,” says Diroff, who is a musician himself.

During tough times, playing music becomes even more important.

“It’s hard to describe that feeling but it just kind of overtakes you really – physically and emotionally,” Diroff said.

Kate Lee says it feels good to be back in band again and hopes their music will lift others spirits too.

“I think other people hearing that would give them some positive energy and give them a little bit of joy in the music and the performance,” Lee said.

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