Band together

Pride of the East manages to have marching season amidst pandemic


photo credit: Ryah Hill

Main event \ Marching at the first-ever Fine Arts Half Time Show, senior Brayden Judge lines up to perform the halftime show: Hamilton. Due to football game cancellations, the marching band performed for the very first time Oct. 16. “It seemed like it honestly could never work considering all of the unknowns about the virus,” Judge said.

writer: Andrea Ensign, Staff Reporter

Rehearsals, concerts and crowds work as a powerful social glue, welcoming emotional connections in the absence of words, but when global changes force people into isolation, the magic of music departs.

The Pride of the East band had big plans going into the 2020-2021 school year, when their marching band show “Urban Playground” was announced early in 2020. Talk of exciting new props, flashy uniforms, and never – before – seen choreography ignited great excitement among band members; however, as the coronavirus began its spread across the country, the band’s grand plans were abruptly put on hold.

“It would’ve been a lot different than what we had done before and I was super excited about the music selection,” senior Katelynn Oksanen said.

Social distancing requirements were a tough obstacle to overcome. The band directors opted to follow through with performing during marching season, but set old show plans aside for a unique replacement show themed around the Broadway musical Hamilton.

“Every season is different—a different cast of students, a different show theme, but this year brought a pandemic,” Assistant Director Kelsie Dunham said. “It’s a once in a century marching season in many ways.”

Conducting marching rehearsals during the spread of the virus required substantial adjustments to the usual routine.

Every season is different—a different cast of students, a different show theme, but this year brought a pandemic.”

— Assistant Director Kelsie Dunham

“It seemed that the pandemic only strengthened the connection we had on the field,” senior Brayden Judge said.

Staff and students needed to stay 10 feet apart when practicing and playing. Practice areas required vigorous disinfecting, and rehearsals were quite a bit shorter than usual. On top of this, a number of students chose to participate in band virtually instead of physically, following livestreams of rehearsals from home.

“Although I was sad about missing out on marching and playing with friends in-person, online rehearsals did a great job of keeping us online students engaged and involved,” junior Namuuka Mweene said. “It almost felt like I was there with them.”

Both remote and on-campus students worked diligently to sharpen their marching skills for the seasons ahead. The band went on to have an accomplished season, performing at two home football games and receiving straight ones at UIL.

“We could not be prouder of how the students innovatively performed a show to remember amidst numerous unexpected road bumps and challenges. Every student played a key role in the success of our program this year and I hope the students know that,” Dunham said. “Regardless of students being in person, remote, a mix of both, everyone has put the ‘pride’ in Pride of the East this year.”