Grove City College’s Department of Music is marching – literally – ahead this fall to fill the campus with a joyful noise, albeit with some modifications to follow health and safety guidelines established to protect students, faculty and staff.
The first steps were taken this week as the Wolverine Marching Band assembled on campus to begin their traditional band camp. Musicians and the band fronts are working on their routines as usual, with masks in place if possible and drill lines spaced out to allow for social distancing. Brass and woodwind instruments will be outfitted with bell covers that create a barrier for moisture and germs without impacting sound quality.
With football season postponed to the spring and no parade or band festival gigs during the pandemic, the marching band is looking at innovative ways to highlight the student talent through livestreaming, recordings and impromptu outdoor concerts on campus, according to Dr. Andrew Erb, band director and associate professor of music.
The conditions may not be ideal, but Erb said the band members are glad to be back on campus and are on board with the adjustments they are making. “Instead of thinking ‘We have to wear masks and keep our distance,’” Erb said, “The students understand and appreciate that we get to do this when so many other college marching bands aren’t able to this fall.”
With limits on indoor crowd sizes, the College’s orchestra, concert band and choirs will hold some performances outside this fall, and others in Ketler Auditorium to smaller, socially distanced audiences of students, faculty and other members of the campus community, Dr. Jeffrey Tedford ’00, department chair and director of orchestras, said.
“Our goal in the Department of Music has always been to strive for excellence in learning, rehearsing and performing while using our gifts to glorify God. With the reality of a global pandemic, we are moving forward with all safety protocols in place to keep our faculty, staff and students safe while continuing to make music,” Tedford said.
As well as the bell covers, the department has purchased singers masks for choir members and students in opera and musical theater workshops. String players, percussion, and piano players will have to wear masks at all times. Other changes this fall for student musicians include rehearsing in smaller groups and outside when possible.
The department is also working on a project to preserve the work that students do this year. “We will record as much as possible and interview people to create a documentary and historical record of how we handled the pandemic,” Tedford said.
“I have reminded myself to focus on what we can do instead of what we cannot do,” he said. “I know that 2020 will be a year to remember regardless of the format of instruction that institutions across the country offer. We want to provide meaningful, intentional, and lasting positive memories for our students and community so we can look back with fondness with how we approached and navigated the turbulence of these trying times.”