With COVID-19 restrictions, HS marching bands starting this year on a different note

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BLUE SPRING, Mo. — We expect the pandemic to impact education, and likely athletics, but it will also likely impact activities such as choir, band and orchestra.

Band directors at Blue Springs South plan to make music in a socially distanced formation this year.

After playing at Kauffman Stadium, sneaking a picture with Salvy and performing at Super Regionals in Indianapolis, the Blue Springs South band is starting this year on a very different note.

“I feel like doing mental gymnastics all the time,” Director of Bands Ken Hansen said.

Hansen has spent time planning and replanning to make sure all 160 band members are safe during band camp and the school year.

Instead of 8-hour rehearsals and two meals together for two weeks, they only practiced for 5 hours and you eat before you come.

“This year it’s like, you team bond over there and we’ll team bond over here,” Hansen said.

They social distance and wear masks about 90% of the time.

“They’re up and counting and doing what they’re supposed to do with their mask on,” Hansen said, “and then we’re like, ‘Alright it’s time to play,’ and then they just go right back up. So they feel safe.”

They can only have 100 people on the field at once. So groups of 15-20 students practice in different areas of the school and take over the parking lots and football and soccer fields, which is a strategy Hansen said they could take into the school year.

“Everyone’s really spread out, and everyone has their mask on outside, so I feel pretty safe,” senior Mackenzie Hammonds said.

Hammonds, 17, said it’s disappointing that they’re not playing all together, but she’s just happy they can still make music.

“It’s sad, but you just have to make the best out of it and do what you can with what you have with everything going on,” said Hammonds, who acts as drum major and plays bass clarinet.

It’s still up in the air if the the Jaguars will be able to have concerts or halftime shows with an audience. So instructors decided to take the Jaguar pride performance through neighborhoods. 

“We’ve been wanting the kids to still get an experience of performing for some kind of audience and that being the audience right next to us,” Assistant Band Director William White said.

White said wind instruments provide a unique challenge. The band might buy bell covers that act just like a mask and stop droplets as they leave the instrument.

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