Education Matters: The show must go on for Fresno County’s music groups

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FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Performing arts programs in Fresno County schools have suffered during the pandemic with most going virtual, but students will tell you there is nothing like performing live.

That’s why band and orchestra students at Clovis High are back to playing in person.

A high school band, the color guard, and the sounds of football practice give the impression that things are back to normal on this campus – but a closer look shows it’s anything but.

“I’m very thankful that we are able to play even though it’s social distancing,” said Clovis High band member Tyler Webb. “I would like to see a little more normalcy, but it is what it is for now.”

For the first time since last March, Clovis High band students have been allowed back on campus, back playing together again.

“I was super excited,” said fellow band member Danielle Densmore. “I was really looking forward to being able to play with my friends again and being able to experience music not just alone because music is a community event.”

Those who play wind instruments have to meet tough guidelines set by the CDC due to possible exposure to droplets. That means band members play outdoors, are placed 9-12 feet apart, purchase bell covers for all the instruments, and wear special masks.

“They are a mask that you can pull a flap and then it goes over your mouth and then it covers the mouthpiece and it allows the student to play and to produce sound out of that,” said Director of Instrumental Music Esmeralda Rocha Lozano.

Orchestra students playing string instruments do not face such strict rules and have been able to play together as long as they social distance and wear masks, but many of them have opted to remain with online learning.

“It just takes a lot of adjusting to learn how to play with everybody while they are in person and while I’m on Zoom,” said orchestra member Frank Buma.

These students will tell you what they have missed is playing music together and sharing their music with others.

“And our hope and our goal hopefully is by the end of the year we can do some kind of outdoor thing for our families and the community whatever that may look like.”

Tyler Webb has been in band since elementary school. He shares the feelings of a lot of students who’ve missed so much this past year.

“It’s important to me especially because this is my senior year this will be my last performance with this band before I move on to college and I really want to give just one last hurrah.”

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