Brett Bawcum is no stranger to planning. As director of athletic bands, his preparation begins 10 months ahead of the next fall season. When COVID-19 hit, planning took on a whole new challenge: a heavy dose of unpredictability. “We were already looking at second and third shows when it started becoming clear last spring that this was not going to be a ‘normal’ year,” said Bawcum. Whether or not the band would even be able to attend games was up in the air until Aug. 28, only 39 days before the season opener.
A smaller number of fans in the stadium combined with canceled performances meant the Redcoat Band (RCB) would need to make changes this year. To say it was challenging to take a 430-person organization and condense it down to a manageable number, able to play and practice safely throughout the pandemic, would be an understatement. RCB leadership took the findings from music-specific aerosol studies as well as CDC guidelines into consideration when planning how to hold in-person rehearsals and game day performances.
“At rehearsals, we are doing everything in our power to keep the risk of transmission as close to zero as possible,” said junior Music Education major and clarinet player Hannah Hankins. She said participating this year has a lot of challenges, but she still found it rewarding. Only about 125 band members were selected to attend each of the four home games, which means most members will only get to play in one game.