Don’t be blue

Club Blue returns to in-person rehearsals


Provided by Alexis Garcia

Club Blue member Alexis Garcia playing the euphonium through the specialized mask. Club Blue practices just outside the band room.

Jaime Jazo and Nadia Martinez

Dusty equipment, an empty room, spiderwebs on trophies; this is what has become of the band room after a year in quarantine. As a result, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Club Blue was left without a room or campus to practice in. Though, little by little, Club Blue members return to campus with the chance to return to in-person rehearsals.

Beginning in March, Club Blue, consisting of percussion, band and color guard, resumed their in-person rehearsals at BVH after nearly a year of waiting. Typically, Club Blue rehearses together for about an hour and a half on Tuesdays every week. For members, in-person rehearsals are not mandatory, it is up to the student if they want to volunteer to attend.

“I was definitely excited, but kind of confused [on] how it [Club Blue returning to in-person] would work because of [COVID-19]. Is everybody available to attend these rehearsals, or are the guidelines preventing that?” Club Blue member and junior Alexis Garcia said. 

In order to abide by social distancing guidelines while practicing in the band room, no more than approximately 36 people can be in there at a single time. After contacting the director of Club Blue Mark McCan for further specifics regarding guidelines the club must follow at BVH, the Crusader received no response. Many attempts were made to set up an interview, however he was unavailable to comment. 

According to Garcia, she and their fellow club mates had a hard time coping with the specialized masks they had to use while playing their instruments. These modified masks have small holes cut out for their mouths in order to play their instrument. 

“We have to wear these special masks which get a little bit frustrating, but nothing major to the point where I wouldn’t want to [participate],” Garcia said.

Senior and Club Blue member Andre Ghashghaee was upset by the fact that his last year in the club wasn’t a normal one. Unlike previous years, certain activities in Club Blue didn’t return during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s definitely sad that we couldn’t have a marching season, but that’s something we already knew for a while. It’s great that at least we get to be in-person and do something,” Ghashghaee said. 

At home, Club Blue members that played instruments would listen to a recorded audio track in order to practice. Both Ghashghaee and Garcia said that while there were some benefits to playing at home like “the comfort of your own house,” it was harder to improve and stay engaged compared to learning in-person.

“When you’re playing it’s difficult to tell what you’re doing wrong sometimes, especially if you’re newer to your instrument. Having a director there listening and trying to help you improve on the spot [is] overall an easier way to learn,” Garcia said. 

Color Guard, on the other hand, had a difficult time with rehearsals. During quarantine, the Color Guard members could only see each other during their assigned class time. Since Color Guard is a hands-on activity, the captains were not able to help the newcomers as much as they would have liked. Color Guard Co-Captain and junior Abby Withrow recalled that when she was a freshman, the returners were physically there and helped the newcomers with their form. Now, not all the members are comfortable with turning on their cameras nor do they all have space to perform. 

Color Guard practicing in front of the Band room at Bonita Vista High (BVH). Photo was taken on March 4, 2021. (Provided by Abby Withrow)

“So we [the Co-Captains] don’t get to see everybody and be able to give those corrections [to their form]. We don’t feel as comfortable now to call people out and give corrections because the whole social [aspect of] getting to know each other didn’t happen. We don’t want to embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable,” Withrow said.

During practices, Withrow stands in the front of a small dispersed crowd of members holding flags, watching everybody perform and practice. Their day consists of exercising all within their designated X-marked spots, and as music plays from the speaker Withrow and her team take to every rehearsal. Each member socially distances and wears their masks, outside and on campus, refining their formations.

“There definitely was a learning curve in the beginning. We’re not used to stretching on the floor [outside]. Normally, we go in the band room, but it was very unorganized, so we had to get used to that,” Withrow said. “It’s been fun getting to know the freshmen and I feel that makes it so much more [enjoyable] when you get to mess around. So [we’ll] be focusing [and] in practice, but have that little boost of energy.”

This chance for Club Blue to go back on campus and rehearse has made a positive impact on the club. Despite this, Garcia still has grander aspirations for the club next year. 

“I hope that we can, within a reasonable amount of time, go back to rehearsals with the full program. [To] have them [rehearsals] multiple times a week like we used to. A big goal [for the future], if we could have a marching show next year, that’d be amazing,” Garcia said.