Band Kids Back from Covid


Senya Scott (she/her), Editor & Writer

Whether it’s playing at football games, participating in marches, or holding seasonal concerts, it’s safe to say that the school band plays an important role in Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s school spirit. With coming back into the building, multiple protocols have been established to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Nick Caldwell, IBW’s band teacher, had some inevitable challenges presented within online band class. “To be frankly honest, CDL does not work well for instrumental music. You have different internet and computer speeds. In a band, we sometimes have 35 different parts going on and you can’t get 35 people to play together [online].”

Caldwell’s worries when it came to being back in person didn’t have much to do with in person class at all, “[My] main concerns were that we would get started right away, get going, and then before you know it, we would have to get back into CDL learning right after”.

Beni Marquez, an IBW sophomore and band student, plays the trumpet, a brass instrument.  Marquez, like many others at Wells, had  concerns when coming back to an in-person classroom, “ I guess it [putting masks down] feels so off, because we’ve had to wear a mask for a year and a half now.”

Elly Helsel, an IBW senior who plays percussion, which includes the drums and bells. She has had a positive outlook on being able to play in person, “I was mostly just excited because the band online was really hard.”

Things look different for percussion than they do for the woodwind instruments. “You have to keep your mask on and everybody who plays percussion has to keep their mask on at all times, because they don’t use their mouths to play their instrument,” said Helsel.

There are, however, tools to ensure the safety of the students while in class. “I play trumpet and we have to put these covers at the end of our bells. When you blow through it, it’s kind of like a mask for your trumpet,” said Marquez.

This method, though, really only works for instruments with bells, like trumpets and trombones, “For some instruments it’s effective. For some it’s not,” said Marquez.

When it comes to students and their cooperation in following the new class guidelines, “Students have been absolute rockstars,” said Calwell. “They put their mask up when they come in, they’re distanced, they’re putting on their bell covers, percussion has their masks on all the time”.

On top of being the foundation of IBW school spirit, the band has also been known for its communal feel. “I think it’s still there, the main difference is just because all of the previous seniors graduated.” Helsel said. “It still feels like a good community, just with slightly different people.”

The Wells football games are, for some students, the first time they get to hear what the school band sounds like. September 10th was the kickoff game, and also the first time the band played for a crowd in over a year.

Nonetheless, the band jumped in. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than I expected it to be,” said Caldwell.

The instruments continued to bring the vibrant energy that the game needed. “I was totally pleased. The kids were smiling and laughing. Kids were singing along and dancing in the stands to the music we were playing,” said Caldwell.  “I got goosebumps from it, it was awesome.”

Although, coming back to in person class brings new challenges, the IBW band has continuously shown its ability to adapt and make necessary changes in order to thrive this season.

The band also had their first concert of the school year, after not performing as a collective in two years. With all of the progress that they continue to make, it’s safe to say that the IBW band is slowly but surely making their comeback.