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WHS band director talks end of year, marching band uncertain in fall

Washington High School Band Director Don Hughes said not having students in the building during the last semester has been less than ideal. With COVID-19 social distancing practices still in place, it is uncertain if band camp will happen this summer. (Union File photo)
Washington High School Band Director Don Hughes said not having students in the building during the last semester has been less than ideal. With COVID-19 social distancing practices still in place, it is uncertain if band camp will happen this summer. (Union File photo)

WASHINGTON — At Washington High School more than 70 students missed half of their last semester of band classes together when COVID-19 concerns closed school buildings and learning went virtual.

Director Don Hughes said despite the unfortunate circumstances, he has found ways to adapt. For lessons there are two options with the first being for the student to set up a Zoom call with him.

“It’s a way to kind of talk to them and that way if they need the extra help or are not sure, I can work with them,” he said.

The other option is to used the application QuickTime where students can record their lesson then submit it for Hughes to grade. Hughes said offering students options and the freedom to choose helps ensure they are practicing.

“The big thing right now with everything being so crazy, (is) I just want to make sure that they’re playing,” he said.

Students have their choice of musical selections or scales, he said. The main goal is to make sure students are still using this time in school to work on their craft and keep up their skills.

For the most parts, students have adapted well to the changes, he said. In the fall, students have to use a online format to submit videos of them playing, making the new format for the spring simple.

However, if there’s one thing they miss, he said, it’s each other.

“There’s a huge social aspect to what we do. That’s really half the fun of the whole thing is being able to create with other people and being a part of that overall group,” he said. “I miss my kids.”

Looking forward to summer, Hugh said he is uncertain about the future of band camp. Currently it still is on the schedule and he is hoping camp can still take place in August.

Hughes said right now he is trying to figure out how to do drum major auditions virtually when they are traditionally done in person.

Drum majors are members of the band who conduct and lead the band while on the field during performance.

Color guard auditions also will be a challenge due to not being able to meet in person. Overall, there are many things to figure out but Hughes said he is taking it month-by-month with the hopes they can all meet together soon.

“The whole marching band thing should be interesting,” he said.