Music department to continue performances with modifications


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

For the Fall 2020 semester, Department of Music will continue performing following safety precautions for the COVID-19. According to Michael Brothers, there is a possibility for band members to play with masks on. “One of the initial findings that came out was playing and masking together, if you cut a slit in the mask for the wind players, it does help,” said Brothers.

The university is now adhering to health and safety policies in an effort to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. 

The new guidelines require masks to be worn on campus at all times. In addition, some areas on campus may require limited occupancy levels, according to the Safe Campus Guide.  

In light of the new regulations, the music department will be making modifications to the way performances will be held and viewed by audiences. 

Dr. Jeffrey Wright, head of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, shared that concerts will still be held in Pottle Hall, but safety measures will be taken among the players as well as the audience for band, orchestra and choir performances. 

“With these ensembles, we will utilize seating arrangements that allow for social distancing between players,” said Wright. “The audience will be required to wear masks per university policy and to socially distance. We are working closely with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to ensure a safe experience for all audience members.”

Wright added that in order for audiences to remain engaged from home, the department is looking to stream performances throughout the year. 

“The department is looking at ways to provide streaming of concerts on campus,” mentioned Wright. “This will allow many more people in our community to experience the fantastic music and dance events that we hold at Southeastern.”

The audition process has also been modified to allow students to submit a video instead of auditioning for a panel in person.

“We are currently allowing video submission in lieu of in-person, live auditions,” stated Wright. 

Michael Brothers, director of jazz and percussion studies, will be overseeing the athletic bands this year. 

Brothers shared that the decisions for handling the university’s marching band were influenced by how other conferences and schools were dealing with their own programs. 

“Back around the beginning of July, the Pac-12 Conference said they were gonna restrict the field of play to players, coaches, game officials only, so no spirit groups on the field, which means no pre-game shows, no half-time shows, things of that nature,” said Brothers. “What we ultimately decided was in the best interest of safety, not only for the students in the band and music department but for our student-athletes as well, that this year, the marching band will not take the field.”

Although the Spirit of the Southland Marching Band will not be playing on the field, the band will still perform from the stands during games. 

“We will not do pre-game, we will not do halftime shows,” commented Brothers. “We’re going to keep the field as clear as possible. What we are going to do is essentially operate as a pep band in the stands. We’ll still do the fight song and national anthem, we’ll play during media timeouts, all the stuff in the stands that we would normally do during the game will continue.”

Another added safety measure is that the band will be divided into two groups and alternate games.

“The other thing we’re gonna do is split the band in half so that we have two pep bands that alternate games,” shared Brothers. “The reason for this is if someone within one of those bands, god forbid, becomes infected, that group requires quarantine, then we have another group available to play. This gives us a little bit of built-in flexibility, which is one of the things we’ve been looking at this whole summer. It’s what’s in the best interest of safety for the students so we can still have that experience for them.”

Since masks will be required on campus, Brothers shared that playing an instrument without removing a mask is still possible.

“It’s not ideal, but it is possible to play with a mask, and that is something we’re going to ask the marching band students to do,” mentioned Brothers. “There’s been a major joint study undertaken by Colorado State and the University of Maryland. One of the initial findings that came out was playing and masking together, if you cut a slit in the mask for the wind players, it does help. Everybody’s going to have to find their comfort level with that.”

Students in the marching band usually begin practicing before the semester begins. Brothers explained how the camp is going to work this year given the changes to the marching band’s routine. 

“Band camp is going to operate the same way,” said Brothers. “The band will be split at the beginning. There’s going to be a reduced band camp this year, obviously because we’re not going to be marching. I think it’s still very important, especially for incoming freshmen, to have some kind of camp experience so they can have a chance to bond with everybody else.”

As an instructor, Brothers shared that he wants to be able to give the students the educational experience they deserve while still watching out for their safety.

“I’m going to do everything I can so the students can get what they’re here for,” said Brothers. “If outside circumstances dictate otherwise, I’ll deal with it at that point. Keeping everybody’s safety and security in mind, working around that parameter, how can we still get something done. The students deserve it, so I will do what I can to make it happen.”