What you need to know about Band and Orchestra’s plans for the year

Savannah Young, Staff Writer

When Roswell High School reopened on September 21st 2020, students were excited, nervous, and relieved to be back in school. Those who returned are now able to see friends, play sports, and, for many, get back to playing music. 

 

There are currently 318 students in band and orchestra combined, all who went without being able to play music with their classmates for seven months. Although they were able to practice and do solos, they were missing the key element of being back in the classroom. 

 

Now that many students are back in school, there are questions about Mr. Moon, the director of band, and Ms. White’s, the director of orchestra, plans for the upcoming school year. Will there be concerts? Will the concerts follow social distancing mandates? Today, we’ll be answering all of your frequently asked questions. 

Mr. Marcus Hawkins teaches the percussion students while following social distancing mandates. (Roswell High School Band)

Are band and orchestra students following social distancing mandates? 

 

The short answer is, yes.  

 

Ms. White, the director of orchestra, has recently shared how her classroom is following social distancing mandates and guidelines. 

 

“One of the good things about playing a stringed instrument is that you don’t have to take your mask off,” White stated, “We’re getting used to being spaced out, though. It’s a pretty far distance from the violins to the basses, so everyone has to make sure they’re counting carefully.” 

 

In preparation for students to come back to her classroom, Ms. White spread out the seating in her classroom in order to follow social distancing mandates and guidelines. (Sarah White)

 

While White’s students don’t need to remove their masks, most students in band can’t play with them on. 

 

Mr. Moon, the director of band, recently shared what he’s doing to ensure that all of his students are able to play safely. 

 

“Masks are mandatory unless we’re playing,” Moon said, “Although students in percussion are able to keep their masks on, woodwinds and brass aren’t as lucky. The flute players, for example, have to sit at the front of the room since the air they blow goes straight out, and we don’t want them blowing on anyone.” 

 

Moon later went on to talk about their use of instrument covers. 

 

We all have our own instrument covers.” Moon states, “It goes on the end of the instrument and helps prevent the risk of COVID. It’s like a mask for your instrument.” 

 

Due to COVID related restrictions, brass and woodwinds have to put a cloth cover over their instrument in order to play in front of an audience. (Roswell High School Band)

 

 

How are the students in band and orchestra adjusting to being back in school? 

  

 

“I think they’re really enjoying being back.” White stated, “They said that it’s easier to learn when they’re in person and are really enjoying being able to make music with their friends again.” 

 

White also makes sure to include the students who chose to stay virtual. 

 

“I give the kids at home and same sheet music I give the kids who are in person, so they’re able to follow along online.” 

 

As for band, Mr. Moon has come up with a system that ensures that both virtual and in-person band students are getting the attention they need. 

 

“We don’t want the virtual kids to feel left out. Just because they’re not in-person doesn’t mean they’re not a part of the band.” Moon said, “Virtual and in-person students are able to work on their solos three days a week. Then, on the other two days, the whole band comes together virtually to play as a group. That way, everyone’s included and doing what they love.” 

 

 

How are the teachers adjusting to being back in school? 

 

Ms. White is glad to be back in the classroom teaching her students. 

 

“This year has been really stressful, but I’m glad the kids are healthy and safe.” She said, “It’s been wonderful to have the them back in the classroom making music again.” 

 

Before Roswell High School reopened in September, several orchestra students participated in a drive by to say a quick hello to their teachers while following social distancing mandates. (Roswell High School Orchestra)

 

As for band, Mr. Moon, although stressed out, agrees with White and is happy to be back in “band land” again. 

 

“It’s been a bit stressful.” Moon stated, “Unlike academic teachers, we don’t give out a lot of paperwork. Overall, band hasn’t changed a whole lot. We’re used to changing the game to fit our needs.” 

 

Will there be concerts this school year? 

 

There have been a lot of “what ifs” floating around the school revolving around whether RHS will be having concerts, if families and friends will be able to attend, and when they’re going to happen. 

 

At the time, Mr. Moon’s not sure if they’ll be able to have a concert with an audience. 

 

“As of now, everything’s up in the air.” Moon stated, “But we’re planning on them. The school’s given us some stipulations that we’re working through to see if it’s safe for the students and their families.” 

 

Moon added that there are other ways they could have a concert. 

 

“We’re thinking about recording it and putting it on YouTube or even livestreaming it so everyone feels like they’re actually there.” He said, “We just want everyone to feel included and heard.” 

 

Before RHS was shut down due to COVID, students were able to play freely in close proximity. Now that schools are open again, students are required to social distance and wear masks when playing. (Roswell High School Band)

 

 

And while we don’t know whether there’ll be an in-person band concert, Ms. White already has a plan for their winter and spring concerts. 

 

We’re planning on having the winter concert on December 8th and the spring concert on April 20th.” She said, “The concert’s going to be split into two so more people are able to come at different times.” 

 

White further explained how they’re going to make the concert work while still following social distancing mandates. 

 

“Currently, we’re coming up with a plan for 25% audience capacity in the auditorium.” She stated, “The seats will be spread out, masks will be required, and we’ll check everyone’s temperature before they take their seats.”  

 

“Our main goal is to ensure that our students are happy and healthy during this time.”