Cover Your Fangs in the St. Mary's Wind Ensemble
Exhibit created by Santos Mencio, Public History Graduate student at St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Texas)
During COVID-19, the St Mary's Music Program had to make many adaptations to survive the sudden onslaught of lockdowns and other social distancing mandates. Band is an experience that requires a high degree of in-person interaction. Rehearsal conduct changed with the implementation of social distancing and lockdowns. Several drastic changes were enacted, such as virtual rehearsals or outdoor rehearsals. It was a shocking change for many band members, so there was an immense need for flexibility
Social Distancing and Going Online
When COVID-19 first began, the university enacted several policies that affected the Music Program, such as social distancing restrictions and mask requirements. These policies were initially focused on safety and crippled the ability of the Music Department to hold rehearsals and performances. Masks meant students were unable to meet indoors, while the social distancing requirements meant that students had to remain a certain distance when meeting. When the fall 2020 semester began, the university and the music department had to adapt to create a safe environment where students could create music, such as holding rehearsals online where masks and social distancing weren't issues.
In-Person Rehearsals and the Experiences of Students and Administrators
The St. Mary's Wind Ensemble endured many challenges as the world began opening up and lockdowns ended. Rehearsals were outdoors because social distancing requirements prevented them from being held indoors. Here other challenges had to be addressed to protect students while still allowing them to perform music pieces. The outdoor rehearsals were completely unlike anything the band had done before. Moving from a professional indoor environment to an unpredictable loud outdoor environment was a difficult challenge to overcome.
Performances and Returning to Normal
By the late Spring and early Fall of 2021, the world had opened up again, providing the band opportunities to begin holding in-person performances again for a live audience. So they held a live performance in the St. Mary's Alumni Pavilion, a sign that things were getting better and a more traditional band environment could be cultivated for the future, even if they needed to take measures to protect the audience. These posters and the emails demonstrate two focuses of the Music Department, protecting performers and upholding public performances. They acted as rallying events for the St. Mary's community as a whole, a marker that things had improved and the lockdowns from a year ago were a thing of the past.
The St. Mary's Wind Ensemble endured numerous challenges as the world shut down and then reopened, such as moving to virtual rehearsals or adapting to holding outdoor practices in an incredibly unpredictable environment. As of November of 2021, the band has overcome many of these obstacles and continued making great music. The items in this exhibit encapsulate the unique struggles the St. Mary's Wind Ensemble endured and the overwhelming effort expended to return the band to normal.