COLLEGE PARK, Md. — While the NCAA waits to make a final decision on college football, other parts of the game-day experience are on hold too.
Every Saturday in the fall, college football players take the field. But, at half time, it is the marching band’s time to shine.
“Between game day rehearsal, all the pre-game festivities, the game itself, after the game performance, it can be a 10, 12-hour day for the students,” Dr. Andrea Brown from the University of Maryland said.
Brown directs the University of Maryland’s marching band, The Mighty Sound of Maryland. For now, their season is as much in the air as the football team. Brown is working with the athletic department to figure out what could happen next.
“We want to know what the band will do, as part of a game-day experience if and when there are games,” she said.
Think about it, students nearby in formations, blowing into wind instruments. It sounds like a way to spread the virus.
“But, first and foremost our goal is to make sure we are keeping our students safe,” Brown said.
That’s why Maryland took part in a study to examine how aerosols spread from instruments.
The results suggested several things. First, all activities should be outside. Students should maintain social distancing guidelines. They should have covers over the instruments and wear masks while playing.
“They would do that by putting a slit in the mask and put their mouthpieces through that in order to cover their nose as well,” Brown said.
If the season is a go, how will the marching bands perform?
“Many of us are talking about recording performances prior to games that we might be able to share,” Brown explained.
But even if there isn’t a season, The Mighty Sound of Maryland will find a way to play on in the digital space.
“We want to continue to provide spirit and engagement in the community so we can provide as much as we can [of] that university experience,” Brown said.