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West Geauga High School band safely marching to the beat

West Geauga's band is stepping up with new rules to keep students safe.

CHESTERLAND, Ohio — Music has a way of healing our souls, relating to our moods and helping us get through a long day. We listen to music when taking long road trips and enjoy live performances at concerts and sporting events.

School bands across Ohio are hoping to be able to perform in front of live crowds and audiences this fall, but many are on edge with the uncertainty due to COVID-19.

West Geauga Band Director Jason Branch said because of new rules put in place, music rehearsal is different this year. "The students are spaced out, and band practice is split up between different instruments."

As football season is just around the corner and bands are prepping to march on the field as a fall tradition, there is some hope.

The Ohio High School Sports Athletic Association released a statement Friday that said, “It is important to keep athletic activity moving forward,” said Dan Leffingwell, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and superintendent of the Noble Local Schools in Sarahsville. “And with that, we believe our member schools provide our student‐athletes with the safest possible environment to return to play and that our school programs are the best avenue to help students learn lifelong lessons and provide social, emotional and physical benefits that other programs cannot. Moving forward allows those students to continue to be engaged with their school coaches and teammates."

"The crowd is where we get a lot of energy from and I’m hoping to not play for any cardboard cutouts of anyone in the stands," said Branch. He also said that the social aspect of music making is healthy for the students in a social and music aspect.

If games are unable to happen this year and in-person concerts are cancelled, Branch stated, "we can always perform and stream.”

The beat of a drum and the sound of a trumpet playing as fans fill the bleachers and band members march step-by-step, getting the crowds hyped, has been a memorable experience for many people as they sit down to watch their favorite sporting event.

"For the sake of making music together, it's best done live," Branch said.

He also added, "I hope the seniors from last year and this year think about the positives that existed during a time of turmoil."