Goshen's high school band program fights to not be silenced by restrictions

GOSHEN, Ind. - It’s that time of the year every parent looks forward to. An opportunity to watch their kids on a big stage singing, dancing, and playing their instruments.

However, this year, things are changing.

"All of our classes are virtual. So sometimes when I'm teaching the virtual class, I feel a little bit like a crazy person. Like I'm just talking to myself. I can see the kids on their screens, but I have no feedback from them as far as what they're playing, and what it sounds like," Josh Kaufman, Goshen High School Band Director said.

"Rehearsing band online is not easy. You know, they don't, you can't play together, because it's all the timing is weird and whatnot. But they've tried," Tom Cox, another Band Director for Goshen High School said.

Practice isn’t making anyone perfect this year. But it’s at least making things feel more normal for the Goshen High School band.

They are getting ready for their annual holiday concert, but just like everything else in 2020, nothing about it is traditional.

"Bell covers, lots of distance between the kids," Cox said.

The audience of parents limited to two per student.

"We got to stay at 25% which is, you know, I don't think we'll go over that, because everybody's kind of like, yeah, we're gonna Livestream it," he said.

And one of the biggest changes for Goshen high school’s band? A change of venue.

"So usually, it's on stage, we've got it decorated with Christmas trees and holiday lights. And now it's in the main gym with you know, fluorescent lights. And in a tarp, we put a tarp down so we can try and keep the basketball floor. Nice, because you know, you'd have 80 chairs and stands out there," he said.

And it’s not just the aesthetics, Cox is expecting the concert to sound different too.

"Most definitely. We're meant to be on the stage. And so this went on some has been a concert band state finalists for many, many years. And we have a certain sound that we go forward and it's based about being in the auditorium and, you know, being somewhat close, so that you can hear each other. That'll all go away tonight. We're just praying. We make it through without stopping, so it will it'll affect the sound," he said.

A band program known nationally just trying to survive locally.

“I mean, we're historically we're a state finalist and a semi-finalist at nationals. So yeah, I mean, and that's a lot of the draw to the program is our successes. And so without the, you know, not being able to have those successes right now, it kind of limits the attraction for some people," Kaufman said.

Both band directors believe the pandemic will leave a long-term impact on the program.

“We may have to do some remediation with our young kids just to try and get them to be where they need to be at the end of the school year. You try and do that online," Cox said.

"We're gonna end up losing, like, almost two full years of certain activities," Kaufman said. "So it's gonna be a lot of retraining and reteaching. And yeah, rebuilding.”

Despite the setback at least there’s a sense of some normalcy around the holidays this year.

"It's a concert that we give every year," he said. "It's a little different in a gym, and much less practice time. And much less audience. But still, a concert, which is something in these times.

“You know, I think there are mixed emotions, to be honest. Josh and I, every day, like, we're doing the right thing," Cox said. "So we just feel fortunate we can do anything.”

Coming up this Thursday, what local choir programs are doing to make sure kids can still perform.
And if you have a story idea or any thoughts - reach out to us at learningcurve@abc57.com.

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