A New Marching Band Season

In the midst of COVID-19, the band staff has created new guidelines and standards for those participating in the activity to ensure their safety

Sarah Ward, Reporter/Photographer

“Even with the social distancing and the COVID procedures, the band still feels connected like a big family,” Sophomore Nathan Cheng said. There are so many kind, awesome, and talented people in the band, which makes it feel even better to be back in person marching on that field.”

This year has been drastically different for students still choosing to participate in marching band, with new regulations and rules put in place to ensure the safety of those attending. In years past, whether it was seven in the morning on Fridays or Thursdays or just simply five in the afternoon after school, the Heritage band was outside and practicing. Instead of the normal eight hours a week practicing schedule from marching seasons before, the band has transitioned into five and a half hours a week, all with a mask on for the majority of the time. 

“It still feels the same with the busy weeks and long practices,” Cheng said. “But it’s nice to have an extra day in the week to relax and focus on school work.”

Masks are only allowed to be off when students are actively rehearsing or playing their instrument. Regardless, many students still wear their masks when they are actively rehearsing, and it is often encouraged for students to put their masks back on promptly after playing their instrument outside. These rehearsals, although a far cry from past seasons, was refreshing and familiar to students and band staff alike.

“I’m so grateful to be back,” Jason Prasifka, the head band director, said. “It’s made me appreciate things so much more than I ever did before.”

As many things were taken away last March, Prasifka had a new feeling of content for normal occurrences during marching season, such as marching rehearsals, being with his students and staff, football games and looking forward to seeing the band perform again. 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to make sure the season can still take place through December, numerous other safety protocols were installed, such as weekly health screenings, rehearsals with smaller groups and no competitions this season. Additionally, the marching show is shorter and the students on the field marching stand farther apart. 

“With half of the people at home, it’s hard for [the band] to fully connect,” said Kaia Sonoda, a junior percussionist. “Not being able to be close to each other at games is also weird, and it doesn’t feel the same.”

The band students in the stands during football games now sit physically distanced, safely talking to each other with masks on.

Although so much has changed, being able to simply partake in this activity again is exciting for both the program’s members and the staff. 

“We were so happy marching band would continue this year,” Prasifka said. “Even if it looks a little different.”