GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — High School marching bands get ready for the first performance of the year under looser restrictions.
When students signed up for marching band this year, they didn’t know if they would ever perform in front of an audience. The kids have been practicing their routines in small groups since July but will only now get the chance to put all together for family and friends after the governor relaxed some of the restrictions for events.
“We are excited to finally play for an audience and show parents and community members the hard work that we’ve been doing in the background,” said Greg Wells, the director of bands for Northview High School in Grand Rapids.
They have held rehearsals with only half the band at a time until recently. Going into the school year, it was questionable if the band would even be able to practice, let alone perform.
“I’m just really excited to be in band at all. We didn’t know what we were going to be able to do this year. Now we’re going to be able to play at a football game, which is really nice,” said Mitchell Opperman, a senior in the marching band.
“It’s the only thing that feels normal in such an abnormal year,” said Jonathan Thompson, a junior.
There are challenges to fine-tuning material for a performance on such short notice, but Wells described them as “great challenges.”
“The kids have realized the volume of things we learn by what we’ve had to get done this week that we didn’t prepare for a home game. The school song, stand cheers, the opposing school fight song and that national anthem, it’s a lot,” he said.
Although there has been a lot of attention on football this year and how important it is for the athletes to play and be part of that team environment, the same is true for the students who participate in the arts.
“Band has helped me with a lot of personal and family issues in my home life. Playing out here with all of my friends is really a fun experience. I plan on going professional with this, so this experience is really heartening to be able to do this during this time,” said Ian Milan, a senior in the band.
Northview High School has not opened up ticket sales to the general public. The athletic department tweeted that admission to the varsity game this week is still by ticket only and limited to designated athlete guests since attendance is still limited to 30 fans for every 1,000 square feet.
Even having a small audience is exciting for performers who have done nothing but practice so far this year.
“The mood the kids have had this week, and the direction they’ve had knowing they get to perform, has been noticeable,” said Wells.