The Pride of the Vikings Marching Band worked through adversities during their 2020 season. Like many teams, the band faced changes that shaped the progression of their show; even the beginning of their season was pushed back due to COVID-19. When the band did begin practices, they were split between the 9th and 10th grade classes and the 11th and 12th grade classes. Full rehearsals were on Monday nights only, so the effects of the limited time in the full band rehearsals were apparent. The younger classes were not receiving as much exposure to the upperclassmen as in previous years. As a result, many were not as confident when the upperclassmen were not present. However, once students were brought back for full time in-person learning, the strength and sound of the band changed drastically. The students found themselves more confident in their playing skills, and the sound of the band morphed to suit a more mature ensemble tone.
During rehearsals, masks and bell covers were required to be used at all times possible, and social distancing at a minimum of five yards was also required. These changes made connections between band members and the directors more difficult to build. At their first performance at the first football game on Friday, August 28th, band members were not allowed to wear their uniforms. Consequently, the band lost a sense of uniformity that connected the members as putting on the uniform and marching to the field creates a sense of pride and oneness within the band. Additionally, this year the band did not perform at the Iowa High School Music Association State Marching Festival. The festival was cancelled, and the band did not submit a video of their performance.
Marching drill proved to be difficult while trying to maintain a safe physical distance, so the band did not march in the typical marching band style. The lack of a contest for 2020 also created a few challenges to incorporating as much on the field as possible. However, through this experience, the band learned more musicality during practices and was able to focus more on techniques and playing styles. With the inclusion of bell covers, the band also learned more about breathing and proper air stream, which drastically improved the sound of the band when the covers were taken off for performances. The resulting sound was more confident and powerful. While the bell covers seemed to be a setback, using the covers turned out to be a much-needed tool.
Drum Majors Abby Hanson, Maggie Kane, and Peter Wilson shared this reflection of this experience: “Though the band faced many adversities, each member faced the challenges with determination and commitment to making the ensemble the best it could be. Through dedication, hard work, and the will to make this season the best it could be despite the circumstances, the Pride of the Vikings Marching Band pushed through the pandemic and has come out a more successful ensemble.”
“We are extremely proud and thankful of the way our band students and especially our seniors handled the disappointment of not being able to have a normal marching band season,” added Associate Principal and Athletic Director Adam Riley. “The resiliency and positive energy shown by the leadership of our senior band members has really set a great example for our student body and staff as we navigate all of the new challenges we are facing in the 2020-2021 school year.”
Finally, band director Dustin Bliven had this to say about the season: “I was extremely impressed with how the marching band handled this year’s marching band season. Not being able to march our traditional drill nor attend the state marching festival created a large challenge in many areas of our season. I feel that each student stepped up and made this season a successful one, and our student leaders did an amazing job. I couldn’t ask for a better group of musicians!”