At least three times a week, the sounds created by the Governor’s Own Marching Band can be heard throughout the campus of APSU.
Although its members were not given an opportunity to play on the field of Fortera Stadium this fall, that hasn’t stopped GOMB from bringing school spirit all semester long.
The band returned to their regularly-scheduled practices last week, following a 14-day remote-learning environment due to a small cluster of coronavirus cases within the music department.
“It was really rough for us to get through, but they’re very resilient,” Director of athletic bands John Schnettler said. “I’ve been so impressed with their attitude and their positivity. Without having football games, without having a traditional band performance. They’re just here because they love doing this thing.
“That’s the most difficult thing for us, because what we do is such a collaborative, physical thing. When we shifted to a remote-mode, we were not comfortable in that setting at all. That takes an emotional toll on them so I think we pulled each other through this.”
Despite not having the chance to perform in a normal capacity this semester, the band has had continued to display their school spirit throughout the campus. On Sept. 25, members took part in their “Friends and Family Performance” and will put on multiple creative productions before the fall’s conclusion.
According to Schnettler, GOMB has received “100% support” from APSU’s athletic department in the ability to participate in both basketball and football games for the winter and spring semesters. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, band members must socially distance and apply bell coverings during any given contest. Also required are the wearing of face masks with slits during their performances. The decision ultimately lies with the Ohio Valley Conference, but is another sign of hope for the marching band moving forward.
Throughout a quarantine, coronavirus scares and inclement weather that has delayed numerous performances, Schnettler says that his members have not been lacking in morale and have been grateful for the opportunity to play.
“Through all this uncertainty, we made it work,” drum major Emma Lang said. “Many other marching bands, their season is totally canceled. Even though we haven’t had marching band in two weeks, we still get to be out here now, and that’s brought us together as a family. We look forward to it, even though we don’t get to perform at football games. We still enjoy making music and presenting it to the public.”
Malik Sylvester, another drum major within the program, spoke on the leadership necessary in order to set an example during these times for his fellow members.
“I’ve just tried to be a model to everyone,” he said. “To be appreciative and thankful for this opportunity. I’m a strong proponent of leading by example. I try to show people that you need to be on time and always be positive in every situation you can be. If you have leadership that models the correct behavior, then it’ll follow down with the rest of the members of the ensemble.”
No matter what the remainder of the semester entails, the Governor’s Own Marching Band will be prepared and grateful for whatever the spring allows.
“I am incredibly proud,” Schnettler stated. “I am always proud of this group, but I’ve found a new appreciation for who they are as people and how much they love the university, how much they love the band through going through all this with them.”