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Local high school bands march through pandemic to a different beat

College Station High School Band and Guard started in-person practices this week, the first time since March.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As football practices get underway during the COVID-19 pandemic, marching bands are finding ways to also rehearse safely. The College Station High School Band and Guard have started its first in-person practices in months.  

“To me, band is more than just an organization and [somewhere to play], it’s more of a community and a near 200 person family," said Arianna Chisum, an incoming CSHS senior.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, many band members thought practices were going to be put on halt for the next year. Now, they’re marching again in person. However, there are a few things that are different this season than ones before.  

Right off the bat, the marching band will be non-competitive this year.

“If we’re non-competitive we don’t have to do as many rehearsals, not as much intensity put on to us as that goes," said Jon Seale, the head band director for College Station High School.  

For the band to start practicing this week, they had to follow some new rules to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  

“I was very anxious, not because I didn’t want to see people but because I didn’t know the precautions we were going to take were going to look like," said Siena Healy, an incoming senior. 

Students have to fill out an online pre-screening form each morning, get their temperature checked every day, wear their face masks when they’re not playing their instrument and stay six-feet apart from one another.   

“This is what I was preparing for and I’m really glad that we’ve got it figured out," said CSHS senior Ben Roberts.  

Besides the band directors making sure everyone is following guidelines, the students are also stepping up and making sure their fellow band members are staying responsible.  

“I think people would be surprised by how much the energy has gone up, like it's insane how everyone is so positive with the challenges and changes that are happening," said Mary Claire Phelps, a CSHS senior.  

The band is still finding their footing after being apart for months, but they are optimistic about the upcoming season that will be like no other before.  

“They sounded way better than what I expected after being away for so long, it’s been a nice turn of events to sound as good as we do already and we’re looking forward to what comes next," Seale said.

Some students in band are not returning in person this next year, but they are still able to take part in activities virtually like through Schoology or the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Band.