Owasso Puts Marching Band Rehearsals On Hold, Modifies Fine Arts Programs

Monday, August 24th 2020, 6:14 pm
By: Ashlyn Brothers

OWASSO, Okla. -

As many area school districts head back to class, some students are upset about extra-curricular activities being delayed.

With athletics happening, other activities like marching band are not rehearsing in person at Owasso High School. The Director of Fine Arts said he understands students are upset, but their health takes priority.  

“We were kind of confused about why every other sport including volleyball, baseball, football, soccer, tennis, wrestling I think, cheer and pom were also able to continue their rehearsal, but we weren’t,” said Anna Henson, senior member of Pride of Owasso and Color Guard. "For it to be ripped away from us, all of our hard work and practice while we get to watch everyone else keep doing that.”  

Director of Fine Arts Chris Barber said most fine arts competitions have been canceled or postponed until the spring.  

“We’ve been planning since Spring Break of all the possible ways that we can make this happen. We had to plan on three or four options. We’ve had to rethink how we might be doing performances,” said Barber. “And simple things like how [to] teach a beginning band student how to play an instrument online. These are new techniques that teachers are having to learn.” 

Barber said organizations are competing for the large air-conditioned spaces amid the summer heat, but even with a reserved room, there's just not enough space for a band of 350 students to safely sound their instruments.  

“A lot of people see the band working outside, but half of what they do is inside,” Barber said.  

Barber said that they learn their music indoors for a multitude of reasons. For one, the wind makes it difficult to keep sheet music and stands from blowing away.  

"This is really about the health and safety of our students and in the band how we can re-tool and rethink this whole process,” Barber said.

Barber said they also don’t have bell covers. He said it's about $10,000 to get bell covers, which is what's suggested because of the aerosols that come out of the instruments. Only, Barber said those bell covers last just 27 minutes inside.  

Barber said that traveling to football games while following proper social distancing would require 29 buses, and only 78 students could perform in the stands. However, they are planning on letting seniors play pep tunes at next week's home game. Barber said it’s not ideal as they normally do a pre-band and marching show, but it’s important for students like Henson. 

"It’s really important. We learn a lot and grow a lot through this program,” said Henson. “It’s taught me so much. I’ve made so many friends. Just like any other sport, you learn so many lessons. 

Barber said after next week's home game they'll have until September 25, 2020 to prepare these performers for the following game. He said they might even try to incorporate some kind of performance, but that all depends on how the other game goes.   

“I’m really excited [to see], as I go around and talk to teachers, how they’re rethinking all of this,” said Barber. “We all know that the arts are what’s going to bring us back together, and the creativity that’s going on, trying to figure out ways to do performances whether their livestreamed, virtually [is impressive].”