Triton band continues to bring the boom

Triton band continues to bring the boom

The 2020-21 school year has been different for all involved.

But as we progress through these cold months, a fire continues to grow within the Iowa Central Marching Band.

Under the direction of Jeremy Smith, the group was finally allowed to show off their skills during the first home basketball and volleyball matches of the year. 

"While we created a few opportunities this fall, the first time the pep band was back inside Hodges Fieldhouse in January was amazing," Smith said. "Now having played at a few basketball doubleheaders, it's been really special for both our veteran members who have been itching to get back out and do something and to our new members that have been waiting to experience all they've been hearing about since before coming to Iowa Central.

"It's not just the performance time that's special, either. It's the full experience of a Triton game day. What they seemed to miss the most was the comradery that starts with the pregame gathering and meal. Sharing stories and getting to learn more about your new friends is an important part of the experience. Then to finally be in the stands, playing and supporting your school and student-athletes.  

"Knowing that many college and university bands are not getting this opportunity this year, and also realizing there were no fans in the seats to support our teams, it makes the privilege for us to be there even bigger. We're honored. We're humbled. We're loving it."

Smith has been the Director of Athletic Bands at Iowa Central for nearly a decade. Under his supervision, the "Legion of Boom" drumline, the "Summer Jazz" traveling jazz combo, the "Triton Jazz Festival," the Percussion Ensemble and Triton Marching Band have all come to light.

But all have been different with the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation and globe. Smith and his student performers have adjusted, though, and are pushing forward. 

"Going back to last summer, I've spent hours going back and forth on processes, procedures, research and more. With COVID-19 being a respiratory ailment, I have a great concern for one of our student performers being infected and having long-term issues," Smith said. The easiest and safest thing to do would have been to shut down for the year and reboot next year.  However, that would have been devastating for the program, what we've done, and what we intend to do. The students we had remaining wanted to be active, and they deserve the best experience possible.

"I'm a member of the College Band Directors National Association. Our group helped sponsor multiple scientific studies this summer on aerosol transmission and came up with recommendations for mitigation strategies. While only recommendations, I chose to follow them as a minimum guideline for what we do. We're wearing specially made facemasks while we perform, and also putting bell covers on all of the wind instruments. We're not sharing point-of-touch items, like percussion, music stands and more. Each student was issued hand sanitizer, instrument disinfectant and other items specific to their instrument. In the fall, we rehearsed outside as much as possible. Now that we're indoors, we're rehearsing in larger spaces, and for performance, we're using twice the bleacher space we normally would. 

"We've all heard of the six-foot distancing. Our minimum is eight. At the end of the day, we don't want to have to answer the question, 'could we have done anything more?' Iowa Central has been very supportive in helping us obtain everything extra we asked for this year. Once marching band season returns in the spring, we plan to follow suit of many colleges and minimize the marching part, for the distancing of our members and from participating teams."

Smith added that the student performers "have been amazing" in dealing with the changes.

"I really haven't heard any gripes or complaints," he said. "From asking them to mask indoors for classes and rehearsals - and even outdoors for certain events - to not sharing car rides to events, to having to wait until after January for our games, they've just done it."

This past fall, the marching band played during the football scrimmage at Dodger Stadium and also took part in an event with the Triton dance team at Veteran's Memorial Park. 

-By Dana Becker