Last night, I was sitting in the living room watching Channel 13 news. A story came up about the California Department of Public Heath (CDPH) easing restrictions to allow cheerleaders to cheer at high school football games. Very happy for those students. They are a very important part of the “Friday Night Experience!” Also, if football players can play football… Cheerleaders can cheer. Heck. Dance teams can dance. And dare I say? High bands can play their instruments.
As a high school band director for thirty-two-years, I was interested to see if the news reporter was going to mention there was a missing “element” to the Friday Night Experience.
To no longtime high school band directors’ surprise … NOTHING (during the “A-Block”) WAS MENTIONED ABOUT THE HIGH SCHOOL BAND NOT BEING ALLOWED TO PERFORM AT CALIFORNIA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAMES.
Do not get me wrong. Honestly. After being with my high school band students at 175+ high school football games in 29 years (three years at a private school – no football team), a Friday night at home with my beautiful and very patient wife (Diana – who has been at most of those 175+ high school football games) is sincerely – a blessing from Jesus Christ!
Yet, even though I do love being with my wife …ethically. Ethically? High school bands should have been given the same opportunity to be at those football games. Spring semester – many bands are not prepared to be performing “pep band” music at games. However, GIVEN A PLAN AND TIME TO PREPARE, the band directors should have been given the choice to have been there. Choices seem to be becoming a thing of the past.
What really challenges me is the absence of any PUBLIC acknowledgment of that missing band!
Sure. There were some folks who noted “where’s the band?” In fact, I am very grateful to KCRA’s Del Rodgers for his “shout out” to those bands who were NOT ALLOWED TO BE at those games Friday night (Northern California). Please take a look at his great work for his Friday night HIGH SCHOOL PLAY BOOK show! He does a wonderful job!
While, the Channel 13 news noted the cheerleaders at the game. Ironically, the cheerleaders featured were cheering from where the band normally sits. DISCLAIMER: I only saw that story in the “A-BLOCK.” They could have mentioned the missing band later in their news program.
Seeing the missing bands / seeing the lack of acknowledgment (being vague: by many of those who are ALLOWED to attend the games) for the missing bands, I felt compelled to speak-up in support of the missing bands.
WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are high schools that are allowing football to be played and cannot (possibly will not allow) allow a clarinet (among all the instruments) play because it is too “dangerous / hazardous.” WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are high school bands who have their preliminary rosters for the 2021-22 school year. Those rosters show bands with 40% – 50% drop in band members. WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are middle schools — with award winning band directors — who are seeing similar drop in numbers to their high school counterparts. WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are students who want to return to being on campus, but because they have “C” next to their name on the roster and the school board has not made a decision for them to be allowed to return … they are not allowed to return to campus. WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are bands in Southern California who are allowing their bands to be indoors for their band rehearsals. Yes … they have appropriate PPE and meet the CDC requirements. Again, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. WHERE ARE YOU?
- I know there are performing arts departments who are not allowed to have indoor performances / rehearsals, while wrestling begins the week of April 5th. WHERE ARE YOU?
The longer this (not allowing performing arts to have the same opportunities as the athletes / cheerleaders are enjoying) goes on – there is something nefarious happening. I know “nefarious” may make me sound like a “conspiracy theorist,” but my goodness.
Again, when it is “safer” to play football during the return from COVID19 than it is to play a wind instrument – you tell me how that makes sense. When it is “safer” to have wrestlers wrestle (with no mask – btw) than it is to have actors on a stage with masks (sigh) – you tell me and all the high school performing artists how that makes sense. WHERE ARE YOU?
WHERE ARE YOU?
I will answer… Since November 2020, at least once a week (on average), I write an email and send that email to the Placer County Supervisors / Placer County Health Department / Assemblyman Kevin Kiley / a school board member and recently add the “infamous” CDPH. I ask those folks, “What is THE PLAN to allow the performing arts to be back on campus?” Share with them stories about others being allowed to perform.
The only person(s) to respond? The school board member and an assistant to Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. Both people have been extremely kind and patient with me. I appreciate their responses. WHERE ARE the rest of YOU?
Who is “you” Paul? Well, I let you (the reader) get to decide who the “you” is. I know who the “you” is.
Here is my prediction.
The year is 2051. The class of 2021 is having their 30th reunion. Since their high school experience, they have found out decisions made during this time (Year 2020-21) were “over the top inequitable” – they will be disappointed in us and will ask … WHERE WERE YOU?