Band students adjust due to COVID precautions


Nya Osterberg

Band students warming up before recording their winter concert. Due to COVID-19 precautions the concert is recorded then sent to families. “I’d say that COVID definitely makes band harder and more unenjoyable because there are no concerts or performances this year and as a senior it’s kind of a downer,” senior Sam Petrazak said.

Kaylee Olson, Reporter

With COVID-19 still in the area, classes like band look different than they did this time last year. Each band member has a special mask that they wear in order to be safe and still be able to play. The school got the masks in bulk then sent them to get altered. 

The masks are all the same no matter the instrument, except for flutes. The flutes have a special mask because they hold their instrument sideways instead  down the middle,”  junior Tommy Schroeder said. “The only thing different in the masks for everyone else is the size of the hole.”

The masks are a necessity for students to be able to take precautions so that they feel safe in class. With that being said, there are many people in the community who are willing to help keep the students safe by donating.

“The students have not had to pay a dime for anything we have done this year with regard to our safety measures. Everything has been taken care of through donations and the school budget,” band director Ben Ruetten said. 

Wearing a mask and playing an instrument may help slow the spread. But there are always still risks involved with the virus spreading.

“The masks are about the same in terms of safety protocol, because they allow an instrument player to play with a mask on and then when the group isn’t playing they adjust the flap to cover the opening,” senior Sam Petraszak said.

Playing with the special masks on can be hard for some students. The masks can be uncomfortable and hard to get used to. 

“I hate these masks very much. Mine is very tight and it’s not adjustable. The hole is also very small, so it takes a few seconds to be able to actually get ready to play. I definitely play worse when I am wearing these masks,” Schroeder said. 

Besides just wearing the masks, band members are taking other safety precautions to avoid spreading the virus. 

“We have special coverings over all instruments. We have been paying attention to special studies to make sure we are complying with the latest research regarding COVID and music education. We also are spread out more than the minimum six feet during the majority of class rehearsals,” Ruetten said. “I also provide extra sanitization supplies for weekly cleaning of the instruments and mouthpieces. Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout our area, as well. Early first trimester we would rehearse outside as much as possible, but that has limitations. Also, it’s no longer an option.”

With the masks having a hole in them in order for students to be able to play, it can be very difficult to tell if the masks are doing anything to keep band members safe. 

I think they are less safe because I don’t think the outside flap is covering the hole very well. Some air is still getting out, which is not good for stopping the spread,” Schroeder said.

The special masks are a way the students can continue to play music. Without the protection they provide it is very likely that the virus would spread much faster. 

“By all accounts these masks are certainly better than no masks at all, and while playing an instrument there is very little air flow escaping. That said, nothing is better than a regular mask worn properly,” Ruetten said. 

COVID is making life more difficult for many people. Petrazak says that it makes band a lot less enjoyable because there are no performances or concerts. The students work hard and practice their instruments all the time, and now no one can see them perform.

Additionally, the teachers have to coordinate with each other to make the classes run smoothly, and this can be very time consuming and hard to do. 

“One element that has been behind the scenes a bit is accommodating all of the various classes in the middle school and high school. We are all working in different and various rooms. It has been incredibly stressful for all of us,” Ruetten said. “That being said, I will say that this situation is definitely better than what we experienced this past spring. We are able to work and create music together again – the situation is not ideal, but it’s better than the alternative.”