Music department plays on while navigating COVID-19

Through various precautions for COVID-19, the music department has managed to continue making music with alterations. Both band and choir ensembles have been impacted by these changes.


Masking music…Practicing a piece for jazz band, junior Nick Mancini (left) and Nevin Allen play their saxophones with specialized personal protective equipment to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The instruments are covered with transparents jackets and each student wears a mask with a hole at the mouth. Arrowhead photo by Sophie Rodrique

By abiding to protocols and safety precautions, the music department is able to continue to make music amidst the pandemic.
The band and choir programs have implemented specific measures such as masks, social distancing, sanitization, etc.
According to band teacher Adam Tucker, a carefully spaced grid has been made for the classroom floor in which each seat in the band room has its own square. Students must sit in their assigned socially distanced seats for each class.
Likewise, choir teacher Jon Timmons has spaced chairs out in the choir room at a six-foot distance for each student. All chairs are sprayed down at the end of each class for sanitation purposes.
Because of recent studies about singing and playing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Souderton’s bell schedule now offers 10 minutes between classes to allow for airflow.
According to CU Boulder Today, “Improved ventilation which draws in more outside air can be helpful in reducing the spread of airborne infections in any indoor space.”
Keeping students safe in the building relies heavily on air circulation. “I try to keep the bulk of the singing in the middle of class, and there’s the ten minute period between classes where there’s no singing, which is helpful,” Timmons said.
There are many safety recommendations regarding COVID-19 and music.
According to Timmons, “it’s recommended that singers all face the exact same direction, which is tough because we like to mix it up,” Timmons said.
The band has been supplied with specialized face masks to wear while playing an instrument. They cover the musicians’ noses and have a hole at the mouth for students to play.
Other alterations that have been made include bell covers, which cover fronts of instruments, instrument jackets, gloves and spit pads.
From the teacher’s perspective, these new precautions can be difficult to navigate. However, there have been positive aspects.“We as humans fear change, but all the adaptations have gone really well,” Tucker said.
Students also have managed to endure the challenges, as seniors Owen Hershberger and Adam Mast both participate in several ensembles.
Hershberger is involved in Advanced/Concert Choir and Rock Band. “The biggest challenge is being able to listen to those around you and to listen to yourself,” Hershberger said.
Senior Adam Mast participates in Advanced/Concert Choir, Jazz band, and Marching Band. According to Mast, hearing with masks is definitely a challenge in the ensembles. Yet, the changes are manageable.
“[The directors] are trying to keep the same feel, but also make sure everyone feels safe. It’s definitely a change, but it’s not too drastically different from last year,” Mast said.
While the music department usually has a concert to work for and look forward to, the ensembles are still working to come up with some type of safe production.
“It is my goal to have some sort of performance experience for the winter, whether it’s virtual, or we do something here for each other,” Timmons said. “I want to give [my students] the chance to perform again because we lost it for so long.”
For band, the mindset is similar. “The learning aspect has not changed,” Tucker said, as he is “still trying to pick a variety of music and still hit those basic elements of music learning.”