The Band Marches Forward

Jayda Vaifanua, Staff Writer

Band! Band! Band! Who doesn’t like the band? Band is a class where people show their God-given gift of playing music with various instruments like the tuba, saxophone, trumpet, and many more. People use music to express their emotions. They communicate using music and music brings people together. Rancho Dominguez’s band is led by Ms.Lopez. RDPS Band has performed in school events and competitions. 

Patricia Olvera, a senior at Rancho, feels comfort and pride to be in the band as well as wishing to perform in a way to celebrate/culminate her senior year. 

“Personally, I hope for my own improvement as a marcher and trumpet. If we do have a marching season, I look forward to competing or at least, performing a field show. It’s something that makes me feel proud as we all put effort into performing,” Patricia said. “For this semester, we plan to practice the music we would usually practice in the Fall semester such as our field show music and pep tunes because it’s still important for us to practice and get ready in case we do go back to school. It’s hard for us to practice marching, though, so that’s something that we would have to work on later but we will have our music ready to go! We are also working to help the newer band members that joined this year to get accustomed to band and I’m excited about that”

This deadly virus continues to strike and affect the lives of many people. The difficult part of practicing band at home is that it is hard to practice marching. Despite the adversity the band faces, they continue to practice and perform via zoom.

“Right now as a band, we are working on making videos about us playing together. We did this for last year’s virtual graduation but now are trying to make some for the school to watch in general so when they do come out, please be sure to check them out.” Patricia mentioned.

As we know, the RDPS Marching Band is known to perform in several school events ranging from your football halftime show to senior graduation. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic things are different. Band members record their part and turn it into a virtual band song instead of practicing all together in one group.

“For right now, I think it is better for us to be at home and it sucks that we’re at home because I was really excited for my last marching season at Rancho as a senior. The football games, the competitions, and just the band members, in general, are things that I miss and never thought I wouldn’t experience this year. I do think a lot of us are missing a lot of things we would usually do such as clubs, sports or simply being physically in class because I know, at least for me, it was a better learning environment and it was nice being to see my friends every day. It’s been a difficult adjustment but everyone is just doing their best right now.” Patricia said.

It is safer that school is conducted online, even though there are some certain things that we miss. We all thought it was going to be a good year but as the virus continues to affect several people, it continues to affect the things we love and enjoy.

Although several students are bummed-out that school is closed but it’s closed to protect the students and staff from getting COVID-19 and potentially spreading the virus to the people they come in contact with.

Fransisco Melgar, a junior at Rancho like every other student, wishes, and hopes school reopens. For the concern and safety of the students and teachers, it is safer that the school is closed so more people can avoid getting covid-19.

“My expectation for this marching season is that the band is not going to not compete in a competition with other bands because of COVID-19.” Melgar speculates.

Some expectations are different from others due to their concern about the pandemic. Although there is not much we can do for the upcoming semester; activities including band, competitions, and field shows will not be able to happen until further notice.

Maya Ponce, a junior at Rancho, is optimistic that the band will work how it was before but with some adjustments to fit the COVID-19 guidelines. However, she has felt that the pandemic has taken away a major aspect of the band 

“If everything works out, the marching season will be moved to next semester. I expect it will work like most marching seasons with a few adjustments such as masks during our break time and less time in the band room altogether,” Ponce mentioned. “I feel very distant when school is closed and I also feel cheated. Although I understand that it is for the safety of the students and the teachers I still feel like I am missing out on school because although the entire point of a school is for education it is also a major social gathering as well.” 

Ponce agrees like most students and understands the situation we are dealing with and accepts the safety precautions of schools closing. As we know, LA County still has high cases of COVID-19 compared to other areas of California which make activities such as marching band risky as COVID-19 can be spread among the band members.

Karin Lopez, the band director at Rancho has had unforgettable memories with her band students. Despite the virus and all these other things going on, we all have to do our part to defeat this virus and everything will go back to the way it was before. 

“I miss my students, and I miss being in the classroom, but I understand why the schools are closed. I miss hearing all of the music coming from my room, the band performing at the games, hearing kids running down my hallway; but I also want my students and their families to be healthy and safe. We all just have to do our part to ensure that we can go back to campus sometime in the near future. Stay healthy, and stay safe!” Ms. Lopez said.

Lopez plans to meet with her students twice a week on the same schedule as it was previously after school as if we were active on campus. But instead of practicing all in one group, they had to separate into smaller groups in order for practices to be safer by preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Marching band meets as a whole twice a week during 6th period, and we also meet twice a week after-school for smaller group rehearsals. During these times, we work on our standard Fall repertoire. That always consists of songs we play during football season and competition. They’re learning their warm-ups, pep tunes, and the field show music (which we would typically compete with).” Ms. Lopez adds. “The marching band students are expected to learn and practice their music or Colorguard routines. They are expected to submit evidence of their growth as performers by sending audio recordings and/or video recordings of their progress. I typically assign a piece of music that they have to record, usually on a website we use called “Soundtrap”. Once the audio to a piece has been recorded, students are asked to submit a video of themselves playing that same piece. I use audio and video recordings to create virtual band videos. These make up the virtual band performances that we will be putting out for the school and community.”

Although the class may be online, Lopez makes sure that distance will not get in the way of her students’ progression in music. Like most teachers during the pandemic, she has created new methods of ensuring that her students are always learning and improving on their skills. In this case, Lopez uses the app Soundtrap in place of her students playing musical pieces in her classroom face to face.

Although the pandemic has made band more challenging due to social distancing, it has not made it impossible. The experience might not be the same but through new methods of online teaching band members can still practice and improve while behind a screen. Through adversity, the band marches forward.