Last year, the football season was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pittsburg State University’s marching band was not the least of the victims. They are back in full force this fall.
The Pride of the Plains Marching Band, under the direction of professor of tuba & euphonium Doug Whitten, held their annual band camp from Aug. 11 to Aug. 13. Some days their rehearsals were from 8:30 a.m to 8 p.m. with multiple breaks throughout the day for meals. The members of the percussion section and the color guard met before the other sections of the band for additional rehearsals. On Wednesday, all members of the marching band came together for an opening meeting where Whitten went over procedures, regulations, and overall goals for the marching band season. The band met later that evening for a full group music rehearsal to go over most of the music they will use throughout the football season.
The band is also led by a handful of veteran members as section leaders, as well as two drum majors, Erica Baldwin and Tyler Fries, both seniors in music education.
“I think this year went extraordinarily well,” Baldwin said. “We have so many people coming back to the band as well as new members to the band. We also have a large group of people who took a year off from marching band and who came back to play with us this year.”
In the 2020-2021 season last year, the band was required to wear special playing masks and bell covers to prevent the spread of aerosol droplets that carry COVID-19. This year they’ve been allowed to ditch those while they are outside, which is the large majority of where they rehearse.
“Last year, there was a lot of doubt and a lot of people being timid within themselves about their playing,” Baldwin said. “This year, while we’re still dealing with COVID, people are so much more confident, and they know what they’re doing… Those people that were here last year are showing our freshmen what to do and they (the freshmen) are picking up on it… We have a stellar freshman class.”
Baldwin also mentioned that some traditions of the band that were abandoned last year due to a distinct lack of football will be returning.
“We’re on schedule to have a full season right now, which is awesome,” she said. “The band is also going to be moved back into the student section which is something I’m definitely excited about. Last year was my first year as a drum major and not getting to experience the Gorilla Walk like normal was a bummer… Now that I get that opportunity and the entire band gets the opportunity, I’m super excited for everybody and I’m excited to see what all this season holds. We already have a really strong band now.”
The Pride of the Plains Marching Band will make their return Carnie Smith Stadium on Sept. 11, performing a show of patriotic music in remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks.