Is Covid the end of the community band?

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Tortuba
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Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Tortuba »

I am associated with three community concert bands all of which are hard hit by the pandemic. None of the bands have rehearsed since last March. Two have lost their rehearsal spaces permanently and the third band may not regroup until September, if at all. In addition, many of the band members are seniors who may never return to the groups. The audiences are also mostly seniors and they may be reluctant to return to a concert setting. I know that the executive groups of the bands are very concerned about losing playing members and paying audiences but there is not much they can do right now.
I appreciate that there are much more dire consequences of the pandemic, (especially the professional musicians who perform for a living), but I was wondering how other community band groups are handling this terrible situation.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Renodoc »

I'm a family med doc. We'll get back to normal at some point, although can't exactly say when.

COVID has been devastating but it's still not as bad as the Spanish flu pandemic. As bad as the Spanish flu was, it was followed by the roaring 20s.

FWIW, I think musicians and entertainers are incredibly essential workers. Music has kept my wife (also a physician) and I going during this whole thing
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by timothy42b »

I think that may be the case.

This is my perception - could be wrong, or could be restricted to local areas. But I think the community band has been on life support for a decade or so, maybe longer.

I remember the days when most of the bands I played in did weekly concerts in the park to enthusiastic audiences, and the better bands were audition or invitation only. Those days are gone, at least around here. The audiences have aged and not been replaced. The community bands have shrunk and are filled for the most part with elderly white folk. (of which I am one) We play for nursing homes but are no longer a part of the Strawberry Festival, the Beer Tasting, etc. When's the last time we marched in a 4th of July parade?

COVID may have pushed us over the edge, but we've been sitting on that edge for a while. It's a shame because I personally enjoy the playing and the camaraderie but the market is gone. Even military bands have largely gone away from the full concert instrumentation, and do most of their gigs with small specialized groups drawn from the larger ensemble. It has been a very long time since a Sousa march was on the Billboard charts.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Z-Tuba Dude »

I don’t believe Covid is the end of community bands.

Sure, it will take work to recover. The band I direct, held outdoor rehearsals in the Fall, socially distanced, of course. The members were so thankful to be playing again, it was almost therapeutic for them. We will begin again in the Spring, when it has warmed up a bit.

Marketability of concert bands has always been a challenge, and that will continue, but the bands need to exist for the PLAYERS!
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by windshieldbug »

I believe that until everyone that wants to be is vaccinated Covid-19 is the end of all audience performances that are not streamed.
Especially wind instruments in large groups.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Dan Schultz »

My candid opinion is: If COVID is the end of a community band it wasn't much of a band in the first place. I'm a firm believer that "where there's a will, there's a way". We lost out rehearsal space in a local community band back in March of 2020. We had been involved with the county school system for about ten years. We immediately began to look for creative ways for our sixty-plus members continue to meet. We immediately began rehearsing in sections at several locations... i.e. ... in members barns, garages, and under carports. We're in Southern Indiana. The weather is not brutal but is often not friendly, either. As soon as we had enough daylight in the evenings and it was warm enough.... we began rehearsing in a local church parking lot. We had a concert the 4th Tuesday in April with the full band in an outdoor amphitheater that went very well. Through the duration of the Summer we remained outside for rehearsals... sometimes dodging rain. We performed another outdoor concert the last Tuesday in September. At that time we found an indoor 250 seat former training facility that we could lease on a month-to-month basis for $200 a month. There are 250 seats and a stage that will accommodate about 32 musicians that are socially distanced. Downsizing to 32 from around 60 wasn't a problem. We didn't have to pick and choose The Band. Members decided for themselves and some simply didn't come 'for the good of The Band'. For the last ten years we had been donating $100 a month to the middle school for the use of their band room so leasing this new facility wasn't a big deal. We performed two virtual Christmas concerts from that same facility.

Bear in mind that The Old Dam Community Band is a departure from what many think. We are an all-volunteer 501(c)3 association with a very small budget. None of our members are paid,,, not even officers, directors, librarians, etc. Very quickly after we formed we purchased used equipment as needed. We own our percussion equipment and a utility trail to store it in. Our annual budget is well under $10,000 and our needs are pretty simple. We don't charge for concerts or performances and rely 100% on private donations. It's not difficult to raise $10,000. The bulk of our expenses are the rehearsal space and a comprehensive general liability policy. We spend about $600 a year on music. We have an 11 member board with ten of them being elected. The music director is appointed by those ten members and serves on the board ex-oficio. We have several small groups that have continued to meet all the way through the 'pandemic'... socially distanced, of course. There is an 8-piece Dixieland group... BBQ (our Big Brass Quartet) tuba euph group... and a 15-piece group that meets regularly to play circus music. Music for fun is a passion for all of us. That's what keeps us going.

There are all sorts of ideas of what constitutes a 'community band'. Our wants and needs are simple and that's the way I envisioned it when my wife and I founded the group on Leap Year Day of 2000. Our investment is quite a bit of work but the rewards of seeing folks playing music for fun is way more reward than the monetary profit most groups expect. I figure we'll be around for a while longer.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by GC »

I think a lot of groups will be back by the summer, especially if their backbone is us older types who are already being vaccinated.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by timothy42b »

GC wrote: Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:44 pm I think a lot of groups will be back by the summer, especially if their backbone is us older types who are already being vaccinated.
That's a good point.

If we oldtimers are the backbone, maybe so.

But we need some muscular youngsters, and I haven't seen much influx of them in later years. Nor do we ever see any in the audience.

I'm 68. My chops are as good as they ever were, but my joints don't want to hold the horn up anymore. So at some point I will have to reduce, reuse, recycle.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Boomer »

Our band is shut down. I don't think it is gone forever.

I do think there is going to be considerably restructuring. I am vaccinated, but I'm going to have to think long and hard about returning to indoor practice and performance venues, especially considering that few of them are dedicated to our purposes, or have any sterilization protocol.

We are in a University town, where compliance with existing protocols is virtually zero. I don't want to go through a continuous process of testing the limit of my immunity. I am an age where even a "touch" of the Covid could be deadly. I appreciate the vaccine, but I also appreciate that there is no permanent vaccine for the flu.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by AnorakHorn »

I presume some of the responders are located in the US.

In Australia, state governments have built out policy documents for community groups, to assist in them developing a COVID Safe plan when using shared community facilities. In Melbourne, Victoria (where I am based), community bands have started to get back to rehearsals with modified layouts that include social distancing, we have logs of who attends, and have worked together to share spaces that are large enough to house a full band.

My organisation (which looks after 3 bands) was keeping a close eye on public health advice and jumped on the opportunity to rehearse as soon as possible. In the non-training bands, we have members in their late teens and some who are in their 50's and 60's, all of whom have committed back to rehearsals. Once the vaccine rollout ramps up across the country, we will be well placed to start competing again.

It's working well, and I think if the group is willing to put the work in to keep their members safe, bands will survive, and then thrive with new found vigour.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Ann Reid »

I’m a PRE “boomer” and Covid survivor, still awaiting vaccination in the quagmire of rules and regs in my hot spot.

If this is the end of community bands, it might as well be the end of me too, so I am avidly watching for the return of buggy, squinty, chilly outdoor rehearsals and outdoor concerts.

I lost almost 5 weeks of daily practice time between a Staph infection and Covid, so I’m plenty demoralized about my playing, but faced with the choice of playing or whining about my regrettable circumstances, I’LL PLAY.

UPDATE- We’re staring outdoor rehearsals April 7, and we have 4 outdoor concerts scheduled already, with at least one more for sure. Good incentive for practicing.
Last edited by Ann Reid on Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by jerseyeuph »

Re: Melbourne
I watched a good bit of the Australian Open and was impressed with how seriously your government has dealt with the pandemic. I’m sure the response hasn’t been perfect, but it sure has made me wish I lived someplace else. Preferably where people took medical science and public health recommendations seriously, exercised common sense and weren’t so damned selfish. Where I live (NJ) has the highest per capita COVID death rate in U.S. If NJ was a country, it would have the highest death rate in the world, yet we keep relaxing sensible restrictions. Community bands may indeed return, but likely before they should.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by William Perez »

Thank you very much for sharing your stories. I realized that I am afraid of an epidemic and my fear is caused by the helplessness of this world, which considers itself progressive, but which is unable to do anything with deadly viruses. On https://samplius.com/free-essay-examples/fear/ I have read very important essays on fear. Fear is an unpleasant emotion and it is an emotional reaction triggered by a perceived threat that causes changes in a person's brain as well as in behavior. Fear can lead to a danger zone where people commit suicide to avoid fear.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Tortuba »

Well, we almost made it.
Our community band quintet has been rehearsing once in an unused church for the last couple of months. We spread ourselves out and put masks on our horns. We used masks when we enter and left the building. We have all been vaccinated.
That was last week. This week, we are back to a complete, province wide stay-at-home order so no more rehearsals for at least another month. This could be the end of the quintet.
The full community band will not get back together until at least September but the municipality has closed our rehearsal space until the end on this year to save on expenses. So, no Xmas concert this year.
Not sure what the future holds for our group but it looks pretty bleak at the moment.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Renodoc »

Tortuba- where are you located? The fact that you are all vaccinated should count for something. In my county in Nevada, they just announced that if we hit 75% of the population vaccinated, we should be able to go back to some form of normal. California is also looking at opening things up mid June which is great for some events I'm involved with including getting a 4th of July Marching Band back.
Tortuba wrote: Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:38 am Well, we almost made it.
Our community band quintet has been rehearsing once in an unused church for the last couple of months. We spread ourselves out and put masks on our horns. We used masks when we enter and left the building. We have all been vaccinated.
That was last week. This week, we are back to a complete, province wide stay-at-home order so no more rehearsals for at least another month. This could be the end of the quintet.
The full community band will not get back together until at least September but the municipality has closed our rehearsal space until the end on this year to save on expenses. So, no Xmas concert this year.
Not sure what the future holds for our group but it looks pretty bleak at the moment.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Tortuba »

I am located in Ontario, Canada. The latest variant is running wild and hospitalizations are way up. Several schoolll boards have closed the schools for at least two weeks.
The vaccination program here was off to a slow start. Unlike the USA, Canada does not have a domestic vaccine manufacturing industry. Previous governments felt it would be more efficient to source vaccines and PPE off-shore. As a result, we are only now getting to the point of planning for mass vaccination programs. Seniors 65+ have access to vaccines for over a month. The rest of the population is just now getting in line for shots.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Renodoc »

Sorry to hear that. I'm a family med doc and have a lot of family medicine colleagues in Canada. Typically, as a family med doc I'm envious of them but not with COVID vaccine rollout. Hang in there- I have a feeling that the US will start getting more vaccine to Canada and Mexico soon.

It is silly that 5 people who are all vaccinated can't get together. The risk of transmission in that scenario is incredibly low.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by timothy42b »

Our trombone choir is using JackTrip for virtual rehearsals.

There is a lot of potential here as we get better at it.

It's unrealistic for a larger community group, or one without very stable membership, because there's a sizeable investment in equipment required. And you can be limited if your local network bandwidth is insufficient.
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Re: Is Covid the end of the community band?

Post by Ann Reid »

The NYC area is still pretty bad, but several of us have been vaccinated.

We had our first rehearsal since October 2020 last night, outside, masked, socially distanced, with 35 playing including 4 new members, and we already have 6 or 7 concerts scheduled.

I hate to play outside but last night was great, breeze, bugs and all. Can’t wait until next Wednesday.
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