Following the closure of all schools in March 2020, and heading into the new school year, the Timber Creek Band had concerns on how to adjust to the new regulations and pushed to sort out how they would meet the rules. They found ways to band together and connect even while socially distanced.
“When we read the news about school being moved online, I was stressed most about band placements and leadership as everything for auditions now had to be done online,” junior member Seth Leverett said. “I started to worry more and more about what band I was going to make or if I would even make leadership this year. As time passed, everyone started to worry more and more.”
With the future so uncertain, it was difficult for student leaders to keep morale up initially.
“It was stressful to keep motivation running through the veins of the program and to get people pumped for the upcoming year,” senior Section Leader Matias Hernandez said. “No one knew what was happening and we were either too hopeful or almost hopeless about the situation.”
The major question was how the Band would stay unified when the future of the school was unknown and knowing the challenges ahead. It wasn’t an easy task, but the band and color guard programs found ways to stay together. If not in person, in spirit.
The first of many opportunities would be the Concerto competition; an individual competition where any band member could submit themselves playing a solo piece, with a prize pool of $500 for the winner.
Over the next month, classes were held online via zoom. Directors James Barnes and Daniel Malacon held this competition via online submissions and zoom.
After countless hours of practicing, Junior David Nguyen took home 1st place on April 20th, 2020.
Band & Guard auditions
This was only the beginning of what would become an extensive quarantine; however, nothing that the directors couldn’t handle. The first week of May, both color guard and band held auditions for the next year’s placements. Color guard Director Laura Rogers took a unique approach to the auditions.
“Color guard auditions were held online via Flipgrid,” Rogers said. “Audition content was filmed by directors and staff and a link was sent out to all students who filled out an interest form.”
Students had to learn the audition material, and upload their videos for directors to adjudicate. All color guard members who make the team become a part of the Varsity Falcon Band. Even though the middle of the chaos, many guard members kept a positive mindset.
“I saw it as a learning experience for everyone involved; truly, the beginning of a new chapter,” junior Drew Dittes said. “There is nothing that our team cant overcome, I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Showing off your musical talent over a single audio recording is quite difficult for even the most talented of veterans.
“Online pass-offs and performances during the quarantine were difficult because you had no reference to being able to hear others play,” junior Ashley Foster said. “You had to work and play solely off of what you can do and play, plus the motivational aspect was almost not there because you’re at home and you feel inclined to relax all day rather than practice.”
Many school programs performed “Zoom banquets” but no one does it quite like band parents. Many of them went all out to make a “homemade banquet night.”
“Usually, our banquet is catered with a pasta bar; so, my family made pasta for dinner as we all sat down together on the Zoom,” senior Color Guard leader Bella Panganiban said. “Some parents also made their kids a ‘banquet background’ to sit in front of on the Zoom. Also, BPA got together and made a background for each of our directors.”
Although technology issues raised, director James Barnes made sure it wouldn’t interfere with the fun.
“On the day of the banquet, we did have a few technology concerns regarding capacity over Zoom,” Barnes said. “Therefore, we made a last-minute decision to upgrade our subscription to a seminar to allow more people. The last thing we wanted was for someone to not be able to be a part of this event.”
Students expressed appreciation towards the BPA (Band Parent Association) for putting everything together.
“The BPA formed a Banquet Committee who worked alongside directors to put together a virtual band banquet opportunity via Zoom to still be able to appreciate, and celebrate our students, despite not being able to see them in-person,” Rogers said.
While that may be the end of the 2019-2020 school year, this was only the beginning for the next year of the program. As summer kicked off, individual sections held online learning sessions with musicians from around the nation. The sessions included guests like Dr. Brad Edwards, Mr. Julian Hernandez, and Ms. Blair Francis. Each musician taught something new, as well as touching upon fundamentals in order to keep the band “good and fresh”.
Unable to hold a summer band camp due to social distancing rules, the directors scrambled to find a way to keep the spirit of the band family alive. To jump-start the momentum of a successful year, the directors began holding “Falcon Band Family Game Nights” via Zoom, starting early August. These Zoom calls were open to all involved in the program and consisted of games, jokes, stories, and a whole lot of smiles.
The efforts of directors and leaders sustained a positive mindset for all involved.
“The Falcon Band and Color Guard is a family,” Rogers said. “This is something that both students and staff treasure and takes great pride in. For the Color Guard, we were able to have our summer camp and introduce one of our new staff members and students over Color Guard zoom meetings with a ‘Color Guard Get to Know You’ beforehand.
“I believe that the excitement of having a camp and being able to welcome our new students in-person helped keep our culture of excellence and belonging alive,” Rogers said. “Despite the troubles that COVID-19 has presented, the common goal amongst the group has been to continue to strive for excellence in all that we do, supporting each other through any and all achievements in a group or individual setting and creating lifelong memories and friendships.”
As the band begins small group marching and learning spirit music, their members are working together to keep that band “family” feeling for the rest of the school year.