As rising numbers of COVID-19 cases on campus have forced all classes to go remote, UNC’s Marching Tar Heels are fighting to keep school pride alive.
Early in the school year, Director of University Bands Jeffrey Fuchs and his team have had to make some difficult decisions that drastically changed the operations of the student groups under his direction — pivoting away from an initial plan to run in-person meetings with social distancing measures in place.
“The ultimate decision was made that the risk of playing the brass and woodwind instruments was not worth taking,” Fuchs said. “So on July 31 we pivoted to just drums, guard and majorettes.”
The sections of the band still practicing are doing so remotely as the University continues to "de-densify" campus.
Trevor Brown, a junior trumpet player, is among the band members who will not be involved in formal practices this semester.
“It’s difficult because marching band is a big part of my whole semester,” Brown said. “So not being able to do it kind of sucks, and it takes me away from the music that I really want to play.”
Others, such as sophomore snare drum player Luke Satterfield, have been told they will continue rehearsals in a remote environment, but the future of that plan is uncertain, as their most recent rehearsal was held in person Aug. 18.
“Moving forward, I’m not really sure what to expect,” said Satterfield. “Because practicing all together online, even in small sections, could be a challenge due to the sound delay that usually comes with internet and video communication.”
Fuchs echoed the sentiment about the difficulties of online music practice, explaining that the approach to teaching his students in a virtual environment will be very different from what it might be under normal circumstances.