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The Sound of Music: GNS Band Adapts to COVID-19

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GNS Band has still been able to bring music to everyone, despite some challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions. While they may not be able to play in front of a live audience, they have been able to recreate the experience and record performances to share across the GNS community.  Already this year, Mr. Steve Thompson and the band students have played for the Remembrance Day assembly and shared a Fall Concert for everyone to enjoy.  “The big thing we are missing now is the live performance,” he said. “We have been recording some tunes and trying to simulate the live performance experience. It’s a little tough because kids don’t get nervous when there is no one watching, so trying to have them elevate their game without that driving factor was a little trickier.” Students wear Number One dress just as they would in a live concert, and they continue to work on the professionalism they would display when they are on stage in terms of posture, watching the director and rest position. All of the performances were done in one take, which Mr. Thompson notes helped to simulate the pressure of a live concert.  “Do all the pieces have a little part in them we wish we could have another crack at? Absolutely, but there is no such thing as a perfect performance either. We tried to keep it as authentic as we could,” he added.  To be able to keep the music flowing, additional measures have been taken to keep students safe, including playing while spread out two metres apart in their learning groups, and more.  “Because there is the heightened risk, they play while wearing masks, which was another hurdle,” explained Mr. Thompson. “We’ve got bell covers for three different instruments to reduce emissions coming out of the ends and we use ‘spit pads’ that do a good job of collecting moisture from brass instruments.”  Mr. Thompson said that getting back into the band room in September was relatively smooth since the students had already been dealing with many of the same sanitizing procedures.  “They came in, washing their hands, wiping down all the chairs, and got into the habit of grabbing a spit pad and wearing our masks,” he said.  The Middle and Senior Concert Bands have been split into their learning groups, where normally they would be one band, but Mr. Thompson said it has freed them up with the music they are learning as he  has been able to target repertoire to each grade level.  Keep an eye out for more performances coming up, including ones from the Jazz Band and the Winter Wonderland Concert.