The Sacred Heart University pep band plans to hold a virtual concert to be released in late March or early April. In this virtual concert, band members will record videos to release online. The recorded videos will be streamed at the Edgerton Center. All in-person concerts were cancelled due to COVID-19.
This concert will be held for people in the Sacred Heart community who have lost members of their families or those close to them. The goal of this performance is to make audiences happier through their music.
Band directors tried to hold a virtual performance last fall, but could not record the audio and video together. They are hiring two outside professionals to record the band performance for this virtual concert.
Andy Kolar, Associate Director of Bands, is doing his best to continue to practice safely. “We purchased custom-made musician masks that allow students to play their instruments while keeping a tight seal around their mouthpiece,” Kolar said.
A virtual concert provides a different set of challenges as the process of preparing is different than a typical in-person performance. All members wear masks, and instruments are covered by a bell cover. Bell covers are used to prevent the spread of germs for players with wind instruments.
Band rehearsal rules are also strict and create another challenge to maintain members’ physical playing skills. In the Edgerton Theater, where band concerts are normally held, all members are allowed to practice for 30 minutes to one hour, then they need to leave for 15 minutes so that the space can be sanitized.
“The amount of time in each rehearsal has been reduced significantly,” said Kolar. “To allow proper social distancing, we can only rehearse in large rooms, so we have had to work quickly when we meet.”
Junior Luke Mallory is one of the pep band members facing the new challenges of virtual performances.
“We’re putting together a pep band video for the hockey and basketball teams since we can’t physically be at the games,” Mallory said.
Members of the band do what they can to keep everyone safe during rehearsals.
“I try my best to distance myself from others to keep myself and others safe,” said Amanda Meza, a sophomore percussion member.
A pivotal point of motivation for band members is having a live audience during their concerts. Now performers have to find a new source of motivation in these times of social distancing.
“Having an end goal gives us something to work toward and makes us feel somewhat normal again. It also gives us purpose to come together and create something beautiful together musically as a group,” said Mallory.
COVID-19 has certainly changed the band’s typical performance style. However, many members appreciate having the opportunity to play for a virtual audience.
“We just want to play music. If we are not able to perform in person, then this is the next best option,” said Kolar. “It’s been a challenging year for musicians everywhere, but we have been able to meet, although in a limited fashion, and do what we love to do: make music.”