Green Bay East High School band marches on despite pandemic

Positively Wisconsin

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — “People talk about having lost so much, but we’ve been through something together, and I think that in itself makes us stronger,” Karen Iken, Band Director at East High School told Local 5 of the past year.

For months, the band could only practice virtually.

“When you play it online, they’re all muted, because the bandwidth and the wifi doesn’t match up,” Iken said.

The district returned to in-person learning in March, allowing the band to finally play together.

“The first day that I had students in front of me and we played together it was, it was so so fun,” Iken remembered. “It almost made me want to cry.”

To get to that point, Iken had to come up with a way to play safely.

“I kind of had an idea,” she said, “but I didn’t know if it would work or if it’d be approved.”

Special masks with slits in them were ordered for students who play wind instruments, and “the other thing is that wind instruments can push air through the instrument and out the end, so we have covers on the end of each instrument,” Iken explained.

Finally, after two trimesters apart, the band can play together: six feet apart.

“I asked the kids, I said, ‘how did that feel?'” Iken remembered, “and they said, ‘it was really cool, but it was weird.'”

There is a lot the band has missed out on this year, but they will get to march on the football field.

“Fingers crossed, we’re going to put it out on the football field for our last home football game,” Iken said.

It’ll mark the end of a year unlike any other.

“We’ve never done this before,” Iken said. “We’ve all tried to work together and make the best of it, and I think that’s really important.”

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