Let The Bands Play On


Baeden Blackburn, Staff Reporter

This past year, due to the global pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, the world saw countless changes in the way previously ordinary activities were handled. We see face masks are now worn in public places where social distancing is not possible. Events like going to the store are regulated, and schools have been shut down and reduced to “remote only”. However, while necessary changes continue to happen, life goes on for Americans. It wasn’t long before people began to ask about the non-essential activities they missed.  Surely there would be solutions for those who wished to watch a ballgame every now and then! If this sounds like something you’ve heard or said before, you’d be correct. Actions have been taken to give the people of America sports entertainment even during a crisis unlike any other in over a century. The NBA created a sickness-proof “bubble”, the NFL has reduced fan capacity by over 75%, and even local public schools have found ways to bring back sports for those who play. Kick-ins instead of throw-ins for soccer, mask-wearing during play, and socially-distanced seating on the benches and stands are all examples of safety regulations placed in order for sports to happen for students. The recurring theme in all of these is that people have always found a way to have life go on even during times of chaos and disorder. 

The American people were and still are so willing and ready to fight to see sports again, but why not the arts? When the initial lockdown hit and sports went under for a short period of time, people turned to entertainment of other kinds. Movies, TV shows, and music were all a beacon of hope during a time of such boredom and disarray. People would spend hours of their time previously spent watching sports binging on all of their favorite Netflix and Hulu specials or listening to their favorite bands. Now that sports have made their triumphant return, we have turned our backs on the arts and the sources of our future entertainment.  While art was there for us when we needed it most, how can we cast it aside as quickly as we ran to it? Athletes get to run their scrimmages with their teams, but students of the arts are limited to seeing their team only on a screen. 

“What’s the problem with doing music at home? Students can record themselves playing, then blend it so it sounds like a band.” This is something that has without a doubt been said in response to the suggestion of in-person music and theatre activities. In a vacuum, it’s even a reasonable idea. On the other hand, there’s the fact that saying this is the equivalent of telling a soccer player to kick a ball against a brick wall for 15 minutes. While they are getting practice and working on their necessary skills needed to succeed, it’s just that: practice. It isn’t soccer. Just like how playing into a speaker as you sit in an empty basement isn’t band. It’s practice. And it works fine as such. Before the outbreak, I, a student of the school’s concert band, along with all the other students in said band, would occasionally be tasked with scales to be done at home and recorded over a computer as a way to improve our skills. This works fine as extra practice, but it’s no way to make music. A band being together to be able to build and play off of one another is just as important as an athlete needing to practice with their team so they can best utilize their teammates’ skills on the field.

Obviously, it’s not as simple as letting students meet and play or sing or perform all willy nilly, but there are precautions that can be taken to ensure that everyone remains safe. Smaller, outdoor gatherings would be the safest opportunities and mask-wearing and social distancing would of course be necessary. Other solutions include that instead of a wind ensemble, where students are breathing into instruments, a band could make a percussion ensemble even if only temporarily in order to keep masks on. On-stage performers for plays and things of the sort can remain with masks on, along with singers as long as they are loud enough to be heard and socially distant. These are just ideas, but they stand as examples that prove that there are possible solutions to allow these things to occur. 

The students of the arts need your help. We’ve worked towards a world where we at South Hadley High School are having football practices, and soccer and field hockey games. These are good things, as they build a sense of community during a time where we are both physically and emotionally distant from each other. However, students of the arts don’t get these opportunities to create community. These opportunities are completely within the realm of possibility. All we need to do is make those student’s voices heard. We need to have those in positions of power know that students of the arts are also important. If we brought back sports, we can bring back the arts too.