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Kansas High School marching bands adjust to playing during a pandemic

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – High school marching bands in Kansas are playing to a new tune with many festivals and competitions canceled.

It means some Kansas schools are having to change their marching routines, while others are still searching for a way to keep drumming.

“It is not easy and we are not going to be perfect, but I think that is something we all need to realize,” said Eric Stambaugh, Buhler High School Band director.

Buhler High Crusaders are figuring out the pitch of playing during a pandemic.

“We have a very supportive administration,” said Stambaugh.

Band camp consists of about 140 students marching on.

“It all comes back to giving our kids as much of a balance and education as possible under the situation that we are in,” Stambaugh added.

“For me, it has got to be an attitude adjustment and keeping a smile on my face,” says Senior Drum Major Lindsay Smart.

Smart’s smile and others covered by masks.

“I just wanted to give them that opportunity,” says Stambaugh.

Band camp at Buhler High has been different. They space out their lines outside and inside they keep the same practice, while also using different rooms to get all students involved safely and playing as one.

“One, we are glad to be back together. Number two, we are glad to be back together doing something we love, and three it is all about the performance,” says Stambaugh.

Other schools like Hutchinson High School announcing on Facebook there won’t be regular marching band, as competitions and events have been canceled, but they still plan on letting kids play.

“We are trying to be mindful and follow the social distancing restrictions and how to best play with a mask,” says Principal Ryan Ewy. “This thing is day to day, hour to hour, so right now our goal is kind of just halftime performances but we are open to other things.”

Right now, the Salthawk Marching Band is planning halftime performances at football games, but they will not be a typical show. Meanwhile, in Buhler, the Crusaders ended a long band camp with a sound they hope echoes into the season.

“What matters the most is being able to be with people and build relationships,” Smart added.

The Hutch principal says he feels safe having the band play outside, but they are still trying to find out the best way to keep small groups spaced out while practicing inside.

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