September 11, 2020

University music programs adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

By Tate Luckey —

Whether it’s halftime at Cardinal Stadium or onstage in Comstock Hall, the level of work and dedication that goes into a performance by any one of the University of Louisville’s arts programs is impressive. What is even more impressive is how these programs have adapted in the face of a global pandemic. 

“Our first change of the semester was kicking off Band Camp with mandatory COVID-19 testing for the full band,” Amy Acklin, director of the Cardinal Marching Band, said. Other changes have included rehearsing outdoors only, performing in groups of 50 people or less and staggering rehearsals. 

Natalie Humble, Head Drum Major, said that since testing has been routine, students have adjusted to the changes well.

“We started our routine of safety right at the beginning of band camp (after we all had the opportunity to do drive thru testing), and it has become very habitual over the last few weeks,Humble said.

But it hasn’t been easy for everyone in the band.

“The purpose of marching band is to entertain, and part of that includes having actual marching band shows. Not being able to do that has been sad,”  Rachel Wilson, a clarinetist/sideline conductor, said.

And while not being able to perform in front of large audiences is disappointing to many of the students in these programs. For instance, the CMB will not be able to do the traditional Cardinal March on the field at any football games. However, the CMB has found a bit of a workaround.

We will perform at each home football game this season. We will play in the stands, including our traditional Pre-Game Show,” Acklin said. “Because of social distancing rules, we can only have 54 people in our band seating area, including students and staff.”

In addition to football games, the CMB will play at various community events. In September, they will perform at 8 Trilogy Healthcare assisted living homes throughout Louisville for residents who have been quarantined for months. They are also collaborating with U of L Health to perform at 5 hospitals in the area, during the “shift change” for doctors and nurses to cheer them on and thank them for serving on the frontlines.

And the band plans on playing virtually too, depending on if the university decides to transition to a fully online program.

“The Cardinal Marching Band is committed to make virtual videos and bring as much Cardinal Cheer as we can to the community!” Acklin said.

Photo Courtesy // The Cardinal Marching Band

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