“The end is nothing, the road is all:” Marching band celebrates being “Together Again”


Courtesy of Pam McKay

Linganore Drumline rehearses with new Covid-19 guidelines

On Tuesday and Thursday evenings the Marching Band can be heard from any car passing by on Old Annapolis Road, and this year that hasn’t changed. However, while the band may be rehearsing as usual, this season has presented an entirely new set of challenges. 

The coronavirus has forced all extracurricular activities to maneuver their typical activities in a way that is safe for all. In collaboration with the FCPS “Back to Play” guidelines, Lancer Band director Mr. Kevin Lloyd has successfully provided the band with safe marching season opportunities. 

During a typical season, 100+ member band would have a show prepared by the end of their two-week band camp in August, followed by daily and evening rehearsals. This year, students had an opportunity to take a look at their music for the first time as a group in August, when Lancer Band staff put together the first, (and hopefully only) virtual band camp, which consisted of almost all typical band camp activities.

Each day of camp included sessions and opportunities for students via Google Meet, including marching fundamentals, instrument sectionals, and informative Drum Corp International (DCI)  presentations. 

Student brass coordinator Amelia Jansen said, “My favorite aspect of virtual camp was getting the opportunity to gain exposure to professional marching bands and drum cores [videos], which we typically wouldn’t have had time for in an in-person camp.”

Aside from music and marching were “Lloyd lessons,” in which Mr. Lloyd provided students with his own advice on a more personal level. These lessons not only were informative, but also allowed students to feel engaged and connected with one another socially. 

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a nightly, “show and tell” exercise. 

Mr. Lloyd said, “I enjoyed our less structured evening ‘show and tell’ activities. It gave everyone a chance to know each other a little better and feel more connected to a group.” The evenings had themes, and Lloyd showed a childhood toy, a hat, a photo, and more.

A quote Lloyd typically shares with students around August or September by Nelson Algren is, “The end is nothing, the road is all.” This year students have taken this quote to heart more than ever, as they are working hard to make every moment of this season worthwhile.

As one can imagine, wrangling dozens of students over the internet is hard.  Mr. Lloyd said, “One of the most challenging aspects is trying to teach music without the audio feedback from students. Due to the delay in video and audio… …the students’ microphones have to be muted as they are playing at home.”

Students also have benefited from this technology, however. Junior drum major Emily Watson said, “I think a skill that I have improved on virtually is patience and looking for small signals. Because interaction is so limited, I always make sure to give my 100 percent at activities.”

While the band may not be preparing for upcoming scheduled performances, they do have a show in the works for when performing is a bit more of a realistic expectation. The show is entitled, “Together Again,” aptly named for when everybody can be just that, safely of course. The show features three movements of contrasting musical styles, and has been arranged by the company Box Six, specifically for bands that have been affected by the pandemic. 

 “The built-in flexibility is to ensure that if your area suddenly becomes open for competition, you would still have a great vehicle to use in a last minute scenario. But most importantly, it is written for students to be excited about performing ‘Together Again,’” This is the description on their website. 

Following FCPS, “Back to Play” guidelines, students have had the opportunity to come in small groups on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, masked up and ready to march. After months of isolation, students were eager to see their fellow band members, even from a distance. 

Watson said, “The main thing I have benefited from is being able to talk and connect with some people.”

“The back to play rehearsals are an awesome opportunity to get in-person interaction with the other kids in the section,” said Jansen. “I especially like getting to know the new students during this time.”

The elephant in the room is most definitely, how are band students able to play their instruments while wearing masks? Band parent and former band booster president Christa Williams has solved this issue, making bell [instrument] covers for every student involved. Additionally, students have constructed their own “instrumental masks” at rehearsals that are maneuvered in a way allowing them to play, depending upon their instrument. 

Mr. Lloyd said, “I can’t thank  Mrs. Williams enough for this incredibly generous contribution to our program.” 

New to the student leadership is junior drum major Emily Watson. Watson has had to educate herself on what it means to be a drum major under any unforeseen circumstances, and has made her fair share of connections with all band members. Watson said, “I have enjoyed being someone that a person can come to. They could before, of course, but now I feel as if I am more accessible to people who may have not contacted me before.”

“This semester has challenged me as a student leader because I have to be prepared for anything,” said Amelia Jansen. “You never know when plans will change.

Follow the band and their season on Facebook at, “Linganore High School Band.”