By Jane Owen
At the start of the school year, uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic along with safety concerns for large gatherings put high school marching band seasons in question. What was never in doubt, however, was the Bloomingdale Band’s ability to keep going. The spirit and determination of the Rajun’ Bull Band cannot be stopped.
Jon Sever, Bloomingdale’s director of bands, revamped the band’s halftime show to adjust for unknowns of the season. Not knowing how long the season might go, he was able to find a Queen show through a vendor who allowed the band to purchase music a little at time. The first song is a compilation of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You.” The second song of the set is “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
Sever explained, “The Queen song ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ seemed to fit our goals of finding a way to make the season happen under these difficult circumstances.”
With safety being the highest priority, changes had to be implemented. Indoor rehearsals require social distancing. Specific masks to accommodate for instruments were purchased. The band plays exclusively at home games. At 218 members, the band is not allowed in the stands.
They sit, spaced apart, deep in the end zone area. Refreshments come in the form of bottled water and prepackaged snacks. Uniforms are cleaned after every wearing. On top of everything, the annual Florida Bandmasters Association Marching Music Performance Assessment (MPAs), which Bloomingdale was to host, was canceled.
Instead of dwelling on what they are missing out on, the students remain focused on playing their best music.
Senior drum major Rosie Harrison is proud of the band’s camaraderie and effort despite the unique challenges:
“I have definitely seen the band grow very quickly under these circumstances, especially the freshman class. Everyone has all stepped up to the occasion to make sure that we are putting on the best show we possibly can amidst a lack of preseason rehearsals and with limited performance opportunities. I am very grateful to be able to do all of the things we have done this season,” said Harrison.
Sever is proud of how the students have overcome this year’s adversities.
“I feel they have come together more as a team to help each other. They appreciate what they can do in a time where they are being told what they can’t do.”
To learn more about the Bloomingdale Band, visit www.bloomingdaleband.com.