Dublin Coffman High School marching-band members met earlier this month for band camp but not at Camp Bountiful in Jackson.

Dublin Coffman High School marching-band members met earlier this month for band camp but not at Camp Bountiful in Jackson.

Instead, because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, they gathered at the high school.

They also did so without ever playing their instruments.

The only sounds that could be heard, said band director Jeremy Bradstreet, were the metronome and students counting along.

"It was definitely an experience unlike I've ever had," Bradstreet said.

Whereas studies have been done to help determine how safe playing instruments together is during the pandemic, those results in July weren't conclusive, Bradstreet said. He said the best choice was to give students an opportunity to move around, have fun and see friends.

"That was kind of our end goal," he said.

Coffman was the only Dublin high school to opt out of playing instruments, but all three high school marching bands held band camp at their respective schools this summer.

Scioto band director Jim Gray said his students also typically attend band camp at Camp Bountiful. Instead, students met Aug. 8-12 at Scioto.

The location wasn't the only change for students.

Gray said he had to teach students how to practice safely together, including staying outside and playing in a line instead of in a circle to adhere to social distancing.

When students assembled to play as a whole band toward the end of the week, they did so spread across the field, Gray said. He used a microphone to be heard.

"They were just so excited to hear each other play together again," Gray said.

Dublin Jerome band members had been scheduled to go to Camp Swoneky the week of Aug. 10, said director Brian Stevens.

Instead, for the weeks of Aug. 3 and 10, he brought the band to the high school for four days a week in three groups, with students playing music during two-hour time blocks.

Marching band is challenging in normal times, Stevens said. His band is focusing on safety now and trying to create a positive experience in a safe environment, he said.

"I was so happy to get back to teaching," he said.

For Bradstreet, camp for his students wasn't necessarily an opportunity to teach but instead to provide students with socialization they hadn't had since March.

Abby Starrett, a 17-year-old Coffman senior, said this year's band camp was meant to help students as much as possible while still keeping them safe.

Not playing an instrument felt weird, she said, because at this point in the season, students would have learned all their school music and would be beginning to learn music for the marching show.

"Although we couldn't play, the directors worked to the best of their ability to make the band camp as normal and helpful as possible while keeping us safe, and I am very thankful for that," Starrett said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

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