Dear CFHS Band Students and Parents:
Out of an abundance of caution, and with the support and understanding of the CFHS administration as well as the Associate Superintendent, we will not be having our fall band camp on August 10-14, nor will we start the school year with marching band. We understand that for many students, the Tiger Marching Band is one of their favorite activities throughout the year, and students enjoy the camaraderie and music. As a band staff, however, we were very concerned with the logistics and timing of safely moving 166 students in and out of rehearsals and performances, moving equipment cleanly, and allowing for safe social-distancing in rehearsals and at football games. This means we will not be performing at home football games, nor at state marching contest (canceled earlier this month by the Iowa High School Music Association).
In an effort to minimize risk of spreading COVID-19, and based on current research and study, we feel the best option for our students is to start the year with smaller concert bands. We are following the guidance of the IHSMA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to follow best practices for safely rehearsing in smaller groups. An in-depth aerosol study commissioned through the University of Colorado-Boulder has begun work to identify best practices for bands and choirs to rehearse in person, and although the study is in the preliminary stages, the early data is encouraging and says it is possible to rehearse safely by following certain mitigation strategies.
Our plan for high school students who have chosen in-person school is to have four small concert ensembles of about 40 students per group. These will be outstanding chamber groups able to perform a wide variety of high school band music, as well as potentially explore some unique chamber music works written specifically for smaller groups. The smaller group size allows us to meet or exceed the recommended guidelines for rehearsals from our local, state, and national music organizations. Several safety precautions will be in place for our band rehearsals:
Chairs will be six feet apart between each musician, with 9 feet in front of the trombones.
Students will rehearse with a mask on. For percussionists, their regular school mask will be just fine. For woodwind and brass players, students will need a mask with a small slit cut into it and a mouthpiece cover sewn on over the slit (more info and pictures coming soon).
Bell covers will be placed on the ends of the brass instruments to minimize aerosols from coming out of the bells (we are waiting for further guidance/study on woodwind instruments).
Rehearsals will last for approximately 30 minutes, with time after rehearsal to clear the rooms and circulate air.
We will still have lessons, and work with students on solo/ensemble literature throughout the year, as well as encourage participation in all-state auditions and other honor group opportunities.
For students who have chosen the online option for school, please stay enrolled in the band program. We will have online lessons, some collaborative work with other CF music students online, and some unique virtual performance opportunities. We will make sure your experience is robust and valuable, and based on the curriculum guidelines we have in place for high school band.
This will still be an outstanding year of making music together for CFHS Bands. Although our fall season will look different, it in no way changes our intent to provide students with some incredibly unique and fun ways to make music together. We will still pursue musical excellence, work hard, enjoy the teamwork our ensembles provide, and empower students to express themselves through music.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Kyle Engelhardt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerald Ramsey, email@example.com