2020: The Year the Bands Fell Silent

Posted on 22nd November 2020 by

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It’s been a funny old year so far. Who would have thought back in January and February that we would be where we are now: Air particles, transmission rates, COVID secure rehearsals, ventilation, no mingling, masks and social distancing were all things none of us would every have thought about before a rehearsal back in February – yet now they are suddenly part of our day to day lives.

Bands were just settling back into rehearsals in the New Year after some mild disruption to rehearsal schedules with inclement weather and traffic jams meaning people couldn’t get to rehearsals on time being the biggest issues most were facing.

Suddenly things changed in March and our medics in the band were actually making noises before most of the media was. One band member even retired one day and went back to work the next in order to help the NHS in it’s vital work that has helped us all through this. Like many bands we have a wide range of ages and professions in the band and while the key workers have worked their way through the summer – driving lorries, working in hospitals, supermarkets and schools, some of our players have had to shield for months on end and several continue to do so or live very restricted lives to minimise risks. As a band we all know people who have been affected and infected, but at the moment we are all doing well, we are healthy and we are coming through this together.

We have even managed to squeeze in a few socially distanced COVID secure rehearsals whilst the tiering system allowed, outdoors to start with and then later indoors when the natural light was no longer available. This provided some players with the opportunity to play together again – albeit 2 meters apart at all times but it gave the players who could attend a real sense of togetherness again and a reminder of why we do what we do.

Playing inside was always going to be a challenge but the availability of a rehearsal space in the school hall which had fire doors a plenty to open and enough room to seat at least 50+ people at 2 meters apart provided the perfect space for the small group rehearsals. Even Gateway managed some of the rehearsals both inside and out until some players were moved into higher tiers and so could no longer attend.

During the summer and more recently for the November acts of Remembrance, many of our players from both bands played The Last Post in their local communities, from their front doorsteps and at the local war memorials. For many of us it was one of the first Remembrance Sunday where we have not been playing with a band and I personally think it will help make next year’s services even more poignant.

There are some positives to have come out of all of this though. The new band Gazebo was tested and was deemed suitable for future events where ‘extreme banding’ is required. The band have looked at how we could in the future play in smaller groups if necessary for jobs and we now have music to do so. We learnt quickly how to Zoom and keep in touch more electronically and Jack has even conquered Sibelius and various pieces of music editing software and is now quite the pro. Some of us even managed to record a few carols and don our Christmas attire in November – just in case we need them in the weeks to come and I am not sure at this moment in time if anyone has got their trees up yet but I think I have heard rumours of players who have been rehearsing their carols – and it is still November!

We know many of the events we would have been playing at were cancelled early on and the effects on the local communities will be far greater than many will realise. For one of the events we had tried to work wit them helping put together a virtual event but sadly the second national lockdown put an end to that.

Next weekend would have seen us starting out Christmas events and jobs like the light switch ons, the National Trust event at Malham Cove, the Christmas markets in Grassington and Skipton and Light up a Light service for Martin House just wont be happening this year. We hope to be able to support them all though next year when I am sure they will all come back in a new and improved format and we will hope to see many of you there too.

We really hope we can do some playing outdoors again before Christmas but whatever we do we will make sure it is safe for both players and anyone listening.

Posted in: Band Blog