The Delaware Hayes Grand Pacer Marching Band concluded its unusual 2020 season this month, and the band’s director said the students kept the band strong through the pandemic.
Director Andy Doherty said the group had a difficult year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but band members rose to the challenge.
To keep the group of students as safe as possible, Doherty said the band had an “extensive” check-in process that included a temperature check and a health screening.
“Over the course of the season, we recorded 2,000 check-ins,” he said.
Doherty added students and even their instruments wore masks during the season.
“We followed the advice of the leading researchers into the safety of wind instruments and developed rehearsal strategies that followed their advice,” Doherty said. “We utilized bell masks which drastically reduce the number of aerosol particles expelled by each instrument as well as maintaining social distancing at all times. The entire marching arts activity had to reevaluate their programs and practices from the ground up this season. It was difficult, but luckily, our community and members rose to the challenge.”
Doherty said because of the unusual year, the band did not learn a traditional marching band show. Instead, it focused on being a “Friday night” style band.
“We learned a ton of stand tunes to play during the game and for halftime,” Doherty said. “It was a fun change of pace, and the demands of this style of performance worked well with our safety protocols.”
Doherty said the band’s usual competition circuit was cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
“It was disappointing to not be able to compete, but this year gave us an opportunity to refocus and center on what’s most important — the students,” Doherty said. “They made this an incredibly rewarding season and kept the culture and community of the band strong. We are lucky to have such strong leaders and upperclassmen.”
Doherty said the band even put on an Ohio State University-style skull session in the stadium for the community on Oct. 10. He added the event was held with the new Ohio Wesleyan University Marching Bishops and said senior band members were also honored during the event.
Doherty praised the group for its adaptability in light of all the changes.
“The students were incredible,” he said. “They rose to meet every challenge and exceeded all expectations that were laid before them. They are a truly inspiring group of young musicians.”
Doherty said the marching band may be done for the season, but he noted students will be back in the community doing chamber music during the holiday season.