This article appeared in the Dartmouth Week on September 20, 2020, by Christopher Shea. To view the original article, please click here.
Despite the postponement of Dartmouth football to February, Memorial Stadium is once again in-use.
This weekend saw the first two socially distanced shows put on by Dartmouth High’s marching band as part of its fall season of virtual concerts.
“It’s great to be able to do something like this,” percussion director Tom Aungst said. “The kids were really excited about the season.”
To prepare, the band has been having regular rehearsals via Zoom, Google classroom, and — in since August — in person.
The band is taking many physical precautions when it comes to Covid-19 safety. Students remain socially distant — six feet apart for regular instruments, and thirteen feet for wind instruments — and masks are required for all except those who need their breath to play.
“Six feet is pretty normal distancing for the drumline,” band director Ian Flint said. “Wind is a whole nother story.”
To meet those regulations, shows were split into different days, with wind playing on Sept. 18 and percussion on Sept. 20.
At the wind show, the band played a couple of jazz songs. At the percussion performance, the band played two songs about masks — “The Mask of Zorro” and the theme to “Phantom of the Opera.”
“This music was actually something we did in 2001,” Flint said. “We weren’t sure if the competitive season would happen, so we chose something that would work for this season.”
Normally, the band would play these songs in-front of a judge where they can immediately get outside feedback on how they did.
Since the concerts are done virtually, the band instead records its shows and uploads them online where judges will watch the submitted videos and rank the bands.
While this can take multiple takes, Flint said his students try their best to perform the song once.
“Our goal is always consistency,” Flint said.
Aungst agreed, adding that, if anything, going virtual is “even more of a motivation” for the band.
Moving forward, Flint said he hopes to find a way to get parents watching the shows beyond standing by the fence.
“We’re taking baby steps with this whole thing,” he said. “But I think at some point we can spread people out. But we still need to take things one week at a time.”
“It’s a lot different season than normal,” Flint added.