The ups and downs of 2020 marching band

Adeline Gruen, Memorial Staff Writer

Many clubs, sports and activities have had to alter their routines to ensure everyone is safe and healthy this year. Like many others, Edmond Memorial’s marching band has taken these precautions.

Memorial’s band season started at the end of summer with the annual band camp. Right off from the beginning, the band was delayed due to unknown restrictions.

“The hardest part with those [restrictions] was figuring out exactly what they were. Since everybody is dealing with this for the first time we’re all trying to make sure that we do it safely and still allow everybody to have a good experience,” said Head Band Director Jeff Jahnke. “There was a lot of discussion with band directors outside of our organization about how we’re going to handle this.”

A week before band camp the students were hit with hard news, the state contest was canceled. Soon after, other bands began canceling their yearly contests. However, there was still hope.

“Then he [Jahnke] told us that if we needed a contest to get better, we were focusing on the wrong thing,” senior clarinet player Gracie Price said. “That little bit of advice stuck with me throughout the season and made me realize that marching wasn’t about winning anything, but instead about giving it my all and surrounding myself with my band family.” 

The first problem that the band directors had to figure out was how to rehearse the music since they weren’t allowed to practice inside.

“We definitely had to rethink how we went about rehearsing music,” Jahnke said. “Rehearsing fundamentals was a lot of the same that we would normally do, but not being able to be inside meant we had to make some changes to how we did that and maybe the speed at which we would be able to do some things.”

Students had to make some sacrifices, to be able to partake in a season.

“There were many changes made this year in light of the pandemic, but the biggest adjustment had to be wearing masks and socially distancing,” Price said. “Whether it was having half the band spread out in the stands at football games or wearing masks at rehearsal, it took a while to get used to those procedures and adapt.”

One of the biggest challenges to overcome was the student absence. There were far more absences as students gradually started to contract the virus, be exposed, or simply not feel well.

“It was just a matter of this person is going to be gone for two weeks, how does that impact everyone else around them, and that was pretty challenging to work through but I thought we did about as well as we could have,” Jahnke said.

Memorial’s band community is one of the things that helped the students go through this hard season.

“We lifted each other up on days that weren’t so easy and celebrated together on days that were special, and through it all, they taught me the importance of not taking any little moment for granted,” Price said.

The season came with a learning curve as the directors and students learned how to deal with everything.

“I think there are obviously some things that I learned through this, that all of us learned, you know we could have structured some things differently to accomplish these tasks knowing that we have some of the obstacles with the virus that are there to make sure everybody stays safe,” Jahnke said.

While the season panned out differently, Rebekah Glenn, a color guard member that recently moved to Edmond, still thinks that it was worth joining.

“One hundred percent definitely would have joined knowing everything that changed. Marching band is the best, knowing from experience and from what other band students I know have said,” Glenn said.


Contact Adeline Gruen at [email protected]