VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Before COVID-19, many college students were used to Fall football games, tailgates, pep rallies and parades. And for members of the USD marching band, those were all events where they looked forward to performing.
They may not be on the football field or marching through the streets this year, but the Sound of USD is still just as loud as ever.
“It’s just wonderful to show that the band has relevancy at all times and yes, we are usually attached to football and other athletic events, but the job that we do there, we’re doing now too. I don’t want to be separated from athletics, I can’t wait to be back, but in the meantime, we’re happy that we’re still contributing to campus and our community,” Director of Athletic Bands Todd Cranson said.
This year there won’t be any events that bring other bands to the Vermillion campus.
These band members also won’t be traveling to events.
“We are just performing in the community. In Vermillion,” Cranson said.
The Sound of USD has performed at Vermillion’s Thursday on the Platz. The group also hosts weekly outdoor concerts on campus each Thursday.
“We play at the Sanford retirement home sometimes and that’s also so much fun. It’s really good to see them and see them smile and cheer us on as we go. The Thursday night performances are also really fun too, because you always see your professors and stuff and then they get to see what you do in marching band at 8 in the morning every day,” saxophone player Hayes Miller said.
No matter the setting, the marching band is just excited to perform.
“I haven’t been able to play in a group since March, so I’ve really missed that. Especially as a music major, that’s something that I’ve become so accustomed to. So, to be able to make music with others is really important. I was thinking about actually taking a year off if these music ensembles weren’t able to be because, as a music major, what are you going to do without your ensembles? It’s a pretty key part of your education. So, I’m very grateful that we’re able to do this,” Drum Major Emily Muirhead said.
Having these performances has allowed the Vermillion community to enjoy music once again, too.
“My favorite comment that I got after a concert was a gentleman came up to me and he said, ‘this is so nice to see live music outside.’ He said, ‘I teared up and was about to cry and I was thinking to myself, nobody cries at a marching band concert!’ So that’s funny and I thought that was great. I mean, people are excited to see live music and the marching band, we deliver live music outside. That’s what we do,” Cranson said.
“I think that the band is needed now more than ever. A lot of our activities on campus have been cancelled and the community needs a chance to be together and I’m very thankful that we’re able to do that and give that to them,” piccolo player Elizabeth Vosburg said.
“It’s a lot of fun to see all the families that come out because there’s a bunch of them that bring their little kids and it’s just something for them to get out and do,” color guard member Taylor Moser said.
Though the marching band has had to make a few changes because of the pandemic, socially distanced music comes naturally to them.
“Before the term social distancing was a thing, we called it keeping your interval. So marching bands are like preprogrammed to do this,” Cranson said.
“When you think of marching band, you think of all the different shapes and all the movements and things going on. Because of COVID, we’re restricted to that so we have the blocks. So, we focus a lot more on what the music sounds like,” tuba player Hunter Logue said.
Wearing masks may not always be possible for every band member, but they still do it whenever possible.
“I have asked our students to wear masks outside as they come to and leave practice as well as during practice. So, our drum majors, the staff, the drumline and the color guard wear masks for the entire rehearsal. The wind players, of course, they have to play their instrument so they have got it worked out where they speak through their masks and then take them down to play,” Cranson said.
No matter the circumstances, it will always be about the music for the Sound of USD.
“It’s a different feeling than at a football game, certainly, because at the football game, most people are there for the football. When people come to these band concerts, they’re here for the band and that’s just a great feeling to have so many people there supporting us,” Muirhead said.