"Mighty Sound of the Southeast" was split this summer as the instructional staff coordinated to follow the university’s social distancing guidelines.
The band was split into two groups for band camp — Cocky’s Band and the 2001 Band — and the groups played at different times of the day during their annual band camp. Various parts of the band within these groups practiced at 18 locations on campus. The band camp went from Aug. 10 to 18 and was used as practice for musicians, the drumline, color guard, Coquettes and feature twirlers.
Jay Jacobs, the associate director of bands and the director of athletic bands, worked with other athletic band directors in the SEC to talk about enforcing COVID-19 precautionary measures.
“We’ve had marching band director meetings in the SEC numerous times over the summer where everyone shared their policies and procedures and talked about what we thought was the best way we could go about doing all this, and so, it’s been a great deal of collegiality across the SEC,” Jacobs said.
Numerous measures were put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect the band's over-300 student members. COVID-19 testing was required for all students living on-campus at least seven days prior to their move-in date, and band participants were required to take a daily survey to screen their health.
"Each [group] had an hour and 15 minute rehearsal in the morning and an hour and 15 minute rehearsal at night," Jacobs said. "So, instead of having nine-hour rehearsals a day, they rehearsed two and a half hours each day."
According to Jacobs, the largest group to practice together was a group of 14 people.
"Those folks never saw the other three-quarters of the band — the other three-quarters of their section in person during band camp week, so it was real important for them to have a virtual section in the afternoon," Jacobs said.
Other SEC bands have taken a similar approach to Jacobs' by splitting their bands into smaller groups to limit student contact, Jacobs said in an email.
Second-year psychology student Asia Green said she was concerned at first about what precautions were being taken for her second year on the color guard team.
“It's very nice how our health is really a good first priority 'cause it was scary going into it at first. I was pretty unsure of the process … but they're doing a great job, and I’m very thankful,” Green said.
Green said section meetings were held on Zoom, and practice was only allowed outside, where students could social distance.
“A part of Carolina band is very much about a bonding experience, and we didn’t want students to be disappointed if they couldn't see their friends,” Jacobs said.
Band practice was held outside, and the number of people allowed to store their instruments in the band hall was limited. The band’s practice uniform was changed to black shorts and a garnet polo to keep students cooler while they were outside practicing.
Second-year nursing student Taylor Brown attended band camp for her second year as these measures were put in place.
“It's just different with it being more spaced out, but it still feels the same as far as practice techniques and making sure we know the material,” Brown said.
If the football season continues, it is expected that one half of the band will play for the first half of the game and switch with the other group for the second half, according to a band document on COVID-19 procedures.
“Our students, I think they love what they do. They’re passionate about it, and there was a time … not that long ago where we weren’t sure we would even have any kind of football season or any kind of marching band,” Jacobs said.
Despite the split band and spaced out practices, Green said the group "will be ready."
“If we are able to march on the field, I think the whole team will be ready,” Green said.