As you probably know by now, all public schools in New Mexico have been closed through the end of the year. This doubtlessly brings up many questions about the activities that we would normally be holding during this time of closure. While there are still many questions we simply cannot answer at this point, I wanted to touch base with you a bit about the direction that we’ll be heading as well as answer any questions that I can right now.
Below, you will find a collection of likely questions followed by any information we have pertaining to the issues at hand. I have organized topically to help you find the answers that you need more quickly.
I. Current Music and Performances
1. Q. When will we perform the music we have been preparing?
A. Unfortunately, as of now, all performances have been cancelled. As such we will be transitioning to a distance-learning paradigm that will likely be more suited to individual rather than ensemble development.
2. Q. Should I continue practicing my MPA music?
A. At this point, the answer to that is, “no”. However, if anything changes with this, I will let you know as soon as possible. In the meantime, please check out the Sandia Band Coronalympics for a set of (continually expanding) exercises you can do to keep your musical skills sharp.
3. Q. What about preparing an online concert like the ones I’ve seen on the news?
A. Those concerts are facilitated by a platform known as SMARTMUSIC. The issue with using SMARTMUSIC in this case is that we tend to play music that is cutting-edge and is not found on that platform. If fact, in our current set of music across all ensembles, only one piece is included in the SMARTMUSIC platform.
4. Q. Could we select music that IS on SMARTMUSIC and make an online concert from that?
A. Yes, this is theoretically possible. However, this would be dependent upon several factors including (1.) directives from the administration about how we should be spending our learning time and what can be required (2.) Sufficient interest from the band parents and students of the SHS bands (3.) The ability to purchase the music – which is currently not possible as we need access to activity funds, and (4.) Development of a safe, responsible and legal way to distribute the music to our students.
II. Moving Forward for the Rest of This Year
1. Q. What might band classes for the remainder of the year look like?
A. I cannot be too specific about this, yet, as guidance and requirements from the
administration has not been given. I can tell you that APS is developing a “Continuous
Learning” model during the week of April 6th, but nobody, as of yet, could explain what that means – especially to a performance-based class such as band.
Meanwhile, we can strongly suppose that classes will be centered around either ensemble music performances (if SMARTMUSIC is chosen as a viable option), individual development (similar to the already existing and optional Coronalympics, but required for a grade) or some combination thereof. The rollout of any of these solutions will not be without some frustrations, but we’ll all be learning together.
2. Q. What about the band banquet?
A. We are not sure that the banquet can be be held on May 9th as planned, but I am committed to keeping the awards and recognition part of the event as close as possible to normal – whether this be a small social gathering in the summer after restrictions have been lifted and it is safe and responsible to hold such an event, or disseminating the awards to their recipients individually.
3. Q. What about band letters?
A. As I mentioned above, I am committed to keeping this aspect of our program as consistent as possible. As such, the Band Boosters and I will examine service and experience points accumulated thus far and extrapolate a list of recipients. Since schools are closed for the remainder of the year, there will be no further opportunities to earn points. However, the required point threshold will be reduced to compensate for this. As always, four-year participants will automatically receive a letter if they don’t already have one.
4. Q. What about Senior Awards?
A. Recipients of the senior awards will be selected by the band membership as usual. Surveys will be online rather than in person, but they will be taken nonetheless.
5. Q. What about the band trip?
A. We are committed to finding a time when we can travel safely and responsibly. While the current rescheduled dates of May 28-31 might still work, we’ll be continually assessing other possibilities should the public-safety situation fail to settle as hoped by that point.
III. Future Logistics
1. Q. When can I get my instrument and personal belongings from the music building?
A. I wish I had more definite information for you at this time, but I will say that I am working with our administration to devise a plan for responsible collection and return of instruments. Ideally, this would be a pick-up/drop-off time reservation system that would allow contactless transfer. I’ll get more information about this out as soon as we get a plan locked down.
2. Q. What about next year’s marching show?
A. Normally, we would have begun discussing show ideas by now, so we’ll have to move quickly on this. I am still optimistic that music for most if not all of the marching show will be available for our students by middle to late May. Please feel free to email any show concepts to me (email@example.com), but do so as quickly as possible. Remember that I need specific content (3 or 4 songs should do), not just a theme. Also note that some pieces of music cannot be used due to rights refusal or simply greedy people demanding unreasonable amounts of money.
3. Q. How will leadership auditions be handled?
A. While there are still enough specifics that need to be worked out that we cannot start the process just yet, I can say the following about the auditions...
a. There will still be an audition, it will simply be online. Prospective leadership candidates
should practice their interviewing skills to prepare.
b. The general band membership will be receiving surveys pertaining to the candidates
that will be used as PART of data for the decision.
c. Prospective candidates need to email a notification of their intent to run for a leadership position no later than April 10th.
4. Q. Will this closure situation affect the scheduled summer band camps?
A. At this time, no changes are anticipated. Main band camp should begin July 20th as planned. Should the situation dictate that change is needed, I’ll let you know ASAP.
I know this is a long posting, but I hope you find the answers helpful. If you have other questions please feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all in uncharted territory here, so I wish you the best of luck and appreciate your understanding as we navigate these interesting times together.
Director of Bands – Sandia High School