Glenville, WV – The fall semester looks a little different at Glenville State College (GSC) this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Pioneer Marching Band, those changes have offered unique challenges moving forward.
Members of the Pioneer Marching Band arrived to campus on Sunday, August 9, to begin their annual week-long band camp. With COVID-19 precautions in mind, the band remained on campus for band camp this year. Traditionally, they are hosted by the Glenville Presbyterian Church, where they spend the majority of their time preparing the music and field show for the fall semester ahead. “This was our first band camp that was not hosted by the Glenville Presbyterian Church. We missed them dearly in so, so many ways! They are truly a phenomenal group of people, and we love them so much!” said Dr. Lloyd Bone, Director of the Pioneer Marching Band.
In addition to a new location, the band adhered to the new social distancing guidelines from the CDC throughout the week. “Band camp was more work than ever before as music has some unique social distancing considerations compared to the average classroom setting,” Bone said. “I spent significant time this summer collecting information from various band and music sources and polling a wide range of high school band directors and communicating with band colleagues in the Mountain East Conference. I discovered that numerous band-related social distance approaches are being utilized across our state and the country. During band camp, we used the current standard social distance guidelines and music related social distancing approaches.”
Some of the changes implemented include practicing and rehearsing outdoors, bell covers designed to cut down on aerosol distribution and projection, practicing and rehearsing in small groups, adjusting bell and section placements in rehearsals, equipment considerations, strategic use of the facilities within GSC’s Fine Arts Center, adjusted practice times, and more. “Especially when considering we were the first large group on campus to have to get used to implementing numerous social distance considerations quickly, I was extremely proud of our students,” added Bone.
“Having band camp gives me a sense of purpose to get up out of bed after all the months of being cooped up without my fellow musicians,” said sophomore music major Christopher Chambers. “There’s no point in making music if there’s no one to share it with. I now know that playing music in a group is much more than just a hobby – it’s to create something bigger than yourself – to make a beautiful, dynamic noise.”
Senior music major Kristina (Tina) Lowe will serve as the Field Commander for the 2020-2021 season. Lowe is from Wirt County, West Virginia, and plays trumpet and percussion in the band. Sophomore Sara Williams will serve as the Feature Twirler for the Pioneer Marching Band.
With the recent announcement from the Mountain East Conference that all fall sports would remain postponed until the spring, the Pioneer Marching Band faces yet another obstacle to overcome. “All of the question marks over the summer surrounding fall sports created significant impacts on the marching band world,” said Bone. “Part of my time this summer included looking into the myriad of ways in which various high school and college marching band programs were planning to react to whatever the outcome of falls sports is in their respective areas. We have been working on music for a field show, but we are not marching. Now that the announcement has been made concerning fall sports in our conference, we have additional possible approaches prepared and are in the process of finalizing which approach we will take.”
For Bone, despite the challenges that the band faces this semester, he is thrilled to welcome students back to campus. “This is my 17th year at GSC. I love our campus, my fellow faculty and staff, administration, board members, alumni, and our community. But the top thing, hands down, that has kept me at GSC are our students. We have awesome students! I love our art and music students dearly. It was soul cleansing and life lifting to make music with the GSC Pioneer Marching Band again this week during band camp. I am not good enough with words to properly describe just how great it was.”
“I would also like to state that band camps are a massive amount of work, and they do not happen without a lot of assistance,” adds Bone. “I would like first to thank our wonderful Department Head, Dr. Jason Barr. He graciously fielded countless marching band related phone calls, messages, and concerns from me all summer. I am very thankful for the work of our band staff: Tina Lowe, Myrtle Copen, Seth Price, Brittany Koutsunis, Colton Allanson, Nick McVaney, Colton Watts, Valerie Ogle, Mitchel Blackburn, Marcus Spinks, Ceara Scott, Shawnta Blizzard, Eli White, and Christine Betts. They did fantastic work during band camp. We appreciate the support from many community businesses, organizations, and individuals, including McDonald’s, Foodland, and Smith Land Surveying. We are also very thankful for the Admissions Office, Residence Life, Aramark, Physical Plant, Public Safety, Financial Aid, and so many others on campus that have aided in our preparation for band camp.”