The Next Normal: UIL official talks about social distancing for high school marching bands

The Next Normal: UIL official talks about social distancing for high school marching bands

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - There are high school activities that are sort of out of tune with social distancing, and a big one is marching bands. KLTV talks with the Region 4 Music Secretary about the agency’s plans to try to adapt to the Next Normal.

WEBXTRA: UIL official talks about social distancing during upcoming school year

When high school bands march they certainly don’t do it six feet apart. And that fact is not lost on Mark Melton, Music Secretary for UIL Region 4.

“Right now music students, band students are allowed to start practicing just as athletics are. Just a few schools are doing that right now. There’s a lot of social distancing; inside or outside, depending on what they are doing, a 10 to 15 foot barrier,” Melton said.

That, of course is an imaginary barrier, which is very unlike what bands have done in the past. But, of course, most of the instruments are powered by lungs, which is an issue in and of itself.

“They’ve been studying it to see how much air is pushed and they feel comfortable with that 10-foot distancing between the students,” Meton said.

And when they aren’t blowing:

“They are also encouraging them to maintain at least a six foot distance when they’re not in rehearsal,” Melton said.

And they plan on staggering pickup and drop off times.

“It’s a big adjustment. Directors are having to clean between every rehearsal,” Melton said.

Many students own smaller instruments, but the big ones tend to be the school’s property.

“Most students own their own mouthpiece, and so if there’s a shared instrument they would not be sharing a mouthpiece and there will be cleaning between sessions,” Melton said.

Melton said cleaning inside an instrument has always taken place in the past anyway. And as far as marching:

“My thoughts right now are students that work together will tend to stay together as a “family” so if one were to come down with that then it would be limited to a smaller group,” Melton said.

He envisions groups on the field not necessarily being close to other groups in the same band.

“I’m anxious to see how it all turns out,” Melton said.

And they all hope the coming marching band season will begin on a high note in the Next Normal.

Melton says there is also the issue of traveling to away games on a bus. He says individual band directors may have to deal with the logistics of how many students are on a bus. He says there are still some unanswered questions as to how it will all work.

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.