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Community Band - Post Pandemic

Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
After an eighteen month break due to the pandemic, the community band I'm in is back at it again. Still, the 60-piece band only has 20 or 25 people show up. But that is better than the offsite video recordings that have been used by many bands during the pandemic. We hope to have a holiday concert in Dec if the gods are willing and the creek don't rise. We all realize that we are one virus mutation away from going back underground.

So how are your bands doing? Here in the Pacific Northwest (US) only about a quarter of the bands are back. This is mostly because so many use schools for a practice venue and the schools haven't let them back in yet. Be safe, be strong, be well.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Most community bands in the Knoxville area have been back for six months or more at full capacity. My 7 piece rock band reconvened with three new members in March. We have been gigging since August. Our big band always takes the summer off, but we started back up in September. Local theater groups are staging productions.

So almost back to normal.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Funny you should ask....

I am acting as a sub bari player for a local symphonic wind ensemble whose bari player is not available--not COVID related, but work schedule changes. They have 4 concerts scheduled in a local theatre for the 2021/22 season. Tickets go for $20 a person, so lots of ringers are filling the seats. The group normally has about 40 people in it. I was at 1 rehearsal a few weeks ago. It was at about 50% of normal attendance.

I am backfilling as conductor for community band in a town about 20 minutes down the highway. They too are at about 50% regular attendance. They normally have about 22 people. Right now we are seeing between 8-11 at rehearsals.

I think Jim, the Pacific Northwest sees things the same--regardless what side of the 49th you're on. There are high vaccination rates in the urban centres (80%+), but still leery of the Delta variant.
 
New Jersey bands started coming back in the summer for outdoor rehearsals/concerts. By September nearly all were back to rehearsing indoors. Most require all members returning to be vaccinated. Return rate is 95%+. New members are filling in the rest.

One group I’m in is also requiring the audience to be vaccinated. This mirrors what NY Broadway and Philadelphia pro groups are requiring.
 
Both community bands in which I play are suspended and have been for almost 2 years now. There was a short period earlier this year when we managed to get a few weeks in but another wave of covid put an end to that. Hopefully we'll be able to play again towards the end of the year. We're hoping to be able to do some Christmas stuff.
 
This is a great question, Gandalf.

We have been back at it since early June where we started outdoor practices in nearby parks. Minnesota had a great summer for this and we were able to practice every week at one beautiful place or another..

Of course as summer turned into fall, we are back in a local school's band room again.

We had one performance back in June in the St Paul Como Park Pavilion, where lots of bands perform over the summer but everything else was a public rehearsal. Our other scheduled performance is in like, March or something.....
 
Well, at last it looks as though we'll be playing for Christmas. One of my bands is commencing on 9/11 and the other by about mid-Nov. Victoria came out of lockdown today and hopefully we'll move forward from here. We have a somewhat reduced Christmas program of performances, but it's a start.
 
Hi, everyone! I joined the club here back in 2011 when I first joined my local community band. The pandemic shut us down and sadly we still have not been able to reconvene. Even more sadly, I've become rather depressed and complacent when I "lost my band" and haven't been playing. So, I'm back, and ready to redevelop the skills I have been slacking on. Saw this post and thought I'd weigh in. I'm in NC - our city sponsored community band has not resumed. There are a couple of church affiliated ones locally that have resumed in the last 4 or 5 months. My band hopes to resume for early spring 2022.
 

Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
... The pandemic shut us down and sadly we still have not been able to reconvene. Even more sadly, I've become rather depressed and complacent when I "lost my band" and haven't been playing...
Although my community band is doing their first concert in over 18 months, I do encourage people to play against YouTube recordings or if they can afford it, Aebersold books/cds. There is nothing quite like playing with a band to back you up. It's one of the reasons I have a decent sound system connected to my desk top. Play on.
 
In my area (southeastern MA) the community band circuit came alive a bit this past summer (outdoor concert series, etc).
The bands rehearsed outside (once or twice) and performed weekly outdoor concerts in July/August. It was great to play with people again...!

At this time there are a few bands that continue to perform indoors; large school auditoriums, churches, etc. These are big-indoor-spaces, not senior citizens' homes.
In these bands all-of-the members must to be vaccinated, wear masks while out of their seats (perc wear'em all the time) and the audiences need to be vaccinated...and yes, there are people checking documents at the entrance.
These concerts are well-attended. The attendees wear masks.....

I keep an eye on the local news and there have been no outbreaks of Covid as a result of these bands' doings.....

Now mind you, nearly everyone I know in my area has been vaccinated (many with booster).....

I do not know where my head would be if performing/gigging had been shut down like summer 2020.......
I'm glad that I can get my fix.

FWIW: I am scheduled to perform a Holiday series with an orchestra next weekend (two rehearsals and six performances over 5 days).
I have submitted a copy of my vax card and all of the members will receive a rapid test when we arrive each day.
Rather than receiving a per dium to go out for food between performances, dinner will be "catered-in" - which is great!

IMO: Performances can happen if everyone is in on the health thing.
 

Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
I *had* two concerts this week but yesterday, two days before the performance, the pianist came down with a breakout case of covid. We had practiced together Monday, found out Thursday, so Suzy and I got a covid test kit. First of all it was easy, expensive, and fast. We both tested negative. We had to cancel the performance because the music is a hodgepodge of changes and tweaks that would be very hard for a pianist, if we could even find one, to follow. Sigh ... are we going into year three of the pandemic?
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Both bands I play in have a program of carols concerts for the next couple of weeks. We've already done several. We're down several instruments in both bands, so we're sounding a bit thin, but it's a start.
 
Busy couple of weekends; last week's (see my post from 11/26) orchestra series was well-attended. All orch members had to have their Vax cards and take a Covid test on site prior to the first rehearsal.
Yesterday I played bass clarinet in another orchestra's Christmas Pops (Rehearsal 12-2:30, concerts at 3:30 & 7:00pm) in a rather large/spacious theater.
Today I played bassoon in a community band's Holiday concert held in a big church.
I've attached a couple of pics from yesterday and today's performances.

As far as the Covid thing goes: last week, yesterday, and today's us performers wore masks when we were out of our seats and removed them to play.

Indoors venues with high ceilings in my area seem to be relatively safe....
 

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Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
I am looking forward to three music groups starting up again in the next 7 daze. But the pandemic numbers are trending upwards in a frightening horrible way. Wondering if I should hold off for the rest of winter. Sigh ... sucks, but might be the wise thing to do? (Suzy and I have had three shots of Pfizer each.)
 
Covid numbers here in Oz are climbing almost vertically. Both bands in which I play are still in Christmas recess, but I can't see either of them starting again anytime soon.
 

Gandalfe

Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Administrator
Thought some you, like I, would find this *very* interesting. It mirrored some of the conversations my wife (the nurse) and I have had.

For those who don't like long reads, the major medical journal JAMA issued an important report yesterday that essentially said:
“The “new normal” requires recognizing that SARS-CoV-2 is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more… Policy makers should retire previous public health categorizations, including deaths from pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19, and focus on a new category: the aggregate risk of all respiratory virus infections.”


All of our lives we have lived in community with others knowing that we might eventually catch a respiratory virus like cold or flu. It was a routine fact of life, and no one really thought much about it. When we had symptoms, we stayed home until it passed. Covid now joins cold and flu as perpetual respiratory health risk. Fortunately, we now have excellent anti-Covid vaccines and anti-viral treatments available. For those vaccinated and boosted, catching Covid appears to range from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to a mild case of cold or flu. Rarely in the vaccinated does Covid involve hospitalization. You might remember from before Covid that flu also carried a risk of serious infection, hospitalization, even death – but we lived with that risk. There will always a risk of respiratory illness. If we cannot eradicate Covid, then hopefully it will be only a minor inconvenience to the vaccinated, but we should not live in perpetual fear and isolation.

CONCLUSIONS. If everyone takes precautions, we should feel reasonably comfortable rehearsing and performing. Here are my thoughts on reasonable precautions:
  1. ALL MUSICIANS should be fully vaccinated (and boosted). This is just common sense.
  2. DO NOT COME to rehearsal if you have any symptoms of cold or flu. Same protocol as before Covid.
  3. RHYTHM SECTION should WEAR MASKs if it gives you additional comfort. Not practical for horns & vocals. Recent studies have shown that cloth masks provide very little protection. N-95 masks are far more protective but even they are not 100%.
  4. For those who are uncomfortable in a larger group, consider playing in smaller ensemble that allows more room for social distancing. Unfortunately, social distancing is not foolproof either. A recent study in China despite its severe lockdowns reported that two families who lived across the street from each other caught Covid even though they had zero personal interaction. Apparently, the virus was able to survive in the open air between the houses.
  5. If after all this you remain uncomfortable rehearsing with others, then performing in a group may no longer be an option for you. Covid is not going away. Cold, Flu, Covid, this is our new normal, and we need to find a way to live with it.
 
I was asked (by a former student/now conductor) to play with a community band that is scheduled to perform at Symphony Hall, Boston during the second weekend of March. The performance is part of a community bands from all over kind of thing....1812 Overture & the usually flag wavers.
(A few of my muso-buddies are playing....... so why not?)
All participants must be double vax'd, everyone is to be masked until seated, & the wife said it was ok.

There have been some performance going on in my area (musicals/classical/school) with vax cards checked, distanced seating, with no outbreaks.

Hopefully this latest surge will subside...
 
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