In the absence of football on what would’ve been the first home game of the season, The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will make its 2020 performance debut virtually from the Glass Bowl with custom-made masks and socially distant field formations.
“Saturday Sounds of the Stadium” will be live-streamed starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 12 on the band’s Facebook page, with more virtual performances to be scheduled throughout fall semester.
“Having the opportunity to continue to perform and make music with the Rocket Marching Band is truly a blessing,” Ashley Venrick, a senior at UToledo majoring in music education and one of the drum majors, said. “We were unsure if we would be able to perform at all, and to know it’s actually happening this weekend lifts everyone’s spirits.”
Though the seats in the Glass Bowl will be empty, Rocket Nation can watch from anywhere around the world as the Rocket Marching Band performs music and choreography from its traditional pregame show alongside longtime UToledo standards and Rocket fan favorites.
But the performance will look different as the 175 students follow safety precautions advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“As one of the more visible ambassadors for The University of Toledo, we want to set an example for how we can all ignite our tradition of campus and community pride, while maintaining low-risk operation,” said Tiger Rhodes, associate director of bands, director of athletic bands and associate lecturer of low brass in the UToledo Department of Music. “We have creative and adaptable students and staff who are able to generate unique performance opportunities.”
The band practices exclusively outdoors, rehearses in small groups for 30-minute blocks, and masks the staff, students and instruments.
Instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder, band members are spaced a minimum of 7.5 feet apart — at least four steps.
They wear face masks, including specially crafted masks with a small slit for mouthpiece access that allow students to play wind instruments.
Plus, fitted bell covers are used as “masks” for all wind and brass instruments to prevent the spread of germs.
Rhodes said he worked closely with CLDesigns in Sylvania to create the blue bell covers as well as a mask with a horizontal overlap to allow for a horn to reach the student’s face while also providing the player coverage when the horn is down.
“We are thankful to have the opportunity to continue our tradition of striving for the highest levels of excellence in performance, discipline and academics,” Rhodes said. “And we are most assuredly learning much about the strength of our team in the face of these new challenges.”