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High school marching bands adapt to the pandemic

Dearborn High's Marching Band
Dearborn High's Marching Band (WDIV)

Many marching bands had an unusual and less traditional season this year due to the pandemic. Bands across Metro Detroit either didn’t have a season, adapted to the regulations for halftime shows, or only held rehearsals to prepare for Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association festival, also known as MSBOA festival, which finished up officially last week.

Many directors and students made the most out of the conditions given to them to ensure they would have some sort of season. Many, if not most high schools decided to have band camp at their high school instead of going away like in past years. Greg Alter Jr., Lake Shore High School’s music assistant and drill designer, said that their marching band usually goes to Saginaw Valley State University for band camp, but this year had band camp on their own turf with rehearsals being from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. for a week straight.

Lake Shore High School Marching Shorians
Lake Shore High School Marching Shorians (WDIV)

The Lake Shore Marching Shorians had to wait to see what was happening to their football team in order to be allowed to have rehearsals for MSBOA festival. The band was able to perform their first half time show of the season on October 9, which they decided to have a student choice show.

Dearborn High School’s Band Director Brian McCloskey said his band also had a home band camp at the end of July and held outdoor rehearsals during August three times a week. “We still held outdoor rehearsals for MSBOA festival. Everyone wore masks unless they were playing. Drumline and our drum majors wear a mask the entire time and no one in the band complained.” McCloskey said that they made sure to have all sets catered to social distancing and that each student remained six feet apart from each other while performing.

Dearborn High Drumline
Dearborn High Drumline (WDIV)

While some schools continued to rehearse, many directors were nervous if their students could even have a season this year. Grosse Pointe South’s Band Director, Christopher Taki, said “We weren’t even sure we were going to be able to do marching and this year, and I’m sure every other group/team in the country was facing the same uncertainties. We’ve just tried to follow all the regulations and guidelines that have been set.”

As the fall season progressed, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS), and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) continuously updated the rules and regulations for sporting as well as marching band events. Regulations covered gathering sizes, social distancing, if teams/bands could participate in practices or contests, and who can attend events based on the different phases the state is in.

Lake Shore High School Marching Shorians
Lake Shore High School Marching Shorians (WDIV)

“We refuse to back down,” said Band and Choir Director of Riverview Community High School Ian Nicholas. “Our marching season is an immensely important part of our band students' musical careers and the effort they have put forth has reflected that.”


If you would like your high school’s marching band to be featured in our social media for #4FrenzyMBM send us an email at 4Frenzy@wdiv.com and tell us what your band’s season was like, what shows you worked on, and pictures of your performances!


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