EXETER—Exeter-Milligan students formed rows of quads, bass drums, cymbals and buckets in the Exeter site football field’s bleachers.
Buckets? The household staple might seem out of place, but tapping drumsticks on the buckets decorated with school spirit is a good coronavirus-era substitute for wind instruments, said Angie Murphy, EM band director.
Murphy said some of her 7-12 band students are less-than-enthused to give up trumpets and clarinets for a band-sized percussion ensemble, but EM eighth-grader Carter Milton is perfectly happy with the coronavirus-influenced modification. “I think it’s awesome that we’re doing this, because most schools don’t get this opportunity,” Milton said.
Bands across the nation are struggling to keep their bands playing on while staying safe from COVID-19. “I do hope to transition into normal band before too much longer,” Murphy said. Part of that transition will be special masks for wind instrument players, which have space allowing for mouthpieces. Additionally, Murphy said she’s heard of wind instrument add-ons like pantyhose stretched across instrument openings. Fine, but pantyhose cost money, and once stretched can’t be used again, according to studies Murphy has read. She said she’s considering coming up with a modification made of interfacing instead, but that’s a lot of sewing to outfit her 7-12 band numbering 45 performers.
Continuing to play is more about maintaining curriculum – it’s what the students want. Milton said that while he’s disappointed he and his bandmates can’t play their regular instruments, he likes the band’s COVID-19 setup. “This is just as fun,” he said.
Exeter-Milligan senior Jaiden Papik said she’s enjoyed trying a new format. “I’ve always wanted to be a percussionist. It’s a chance to try something new.”
Inspired by her and her students’ love of playing, Murphy is racking her brain to think of other modifications to keep the EM 7-12 band playing on. In the meantime, the sound of a cadence and well-kept rhythm resonates around the Exeter site’s football field. The endeavor will culminate in a performance during the Exeter-Milligan-Friend Bobcats football game against Tri-County Friday.
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