More than a Band-Aid for Pride of the Irish

Director puts procedures into place for marching band practices

The drum majors lead a recent Pride of the Irish practice on the football field.

Photo submitted

The drum majors lead a recent Pride of the Irish practice on the football field.

Liam Eifert, Reporter

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how nearly every class operates. Mandatory masks and strict social distanced assigned seating have become the standard schoolwide.

Some classes, however, have been required to go beyond the already somewhat cumbersome precautions. Director of bands Kathy McCullough has worked to make band a safe environment for its members. McCullough said, “We’re lucky to still be able to do it. Several of my other friends who are band directors, (and) their school won’t let them do anything.”

McCullough said that to be able to continue playing, “We’re being careful, and we’re playing outside.”

The director recounted all the extra safety precautions the band is taking this year and also the progress the band has been able to make in spite of the difficulties.

McCullough said that the first safety measure to be taken was for everyone who could wear a mask to do so. As for herself, McCullough said, “I wear a mask all the time. Other than lunch, you will not see me without a mask.”

For most of the band though, “you can’t wear masks and blow into an instrument,” she said. Even if Pride of the Irish members can’t don masks, McCullough said, “We have (used) some covers, like the trumpet has a bell cover, the saxophone where the hole is they put a cover over that, the tuba has a big (cover).”

Football game performances, once a staple in the band’s schedule, will not happen for the foreseeable future. McCullough said, “If we were to go, that would take another hundred tickets away from the lottery,” referring to the system in which a limited number of students can gain attendance to football games. Even if tickets weren’t an issue, McCullough said, “I worry about the kids, the parents that help and everybody else. When we can do it safely, we will do it.”

The inability to be present at a football game still doesn’t necessarily mean the band won’t have any performances.

McCullough said, “One of our dads came up with a great idea that, in maybe a week or two when we can do the whole show, we can video it and play it at halftme when they stream the football game.” A live performance might also be possible on possibly a Sunday afternoon in October.

The band has had events other than football canceled due to coronavirus as well. McCullough said, “ISSMA, the Indiana State School Music Association, usually runs several contests. Well, they canceled all of them.”

The travel, the meals together, we miss that.”

— Mrs. Kathy McCullough

McCullough said that usually the ability to go to a band show provides what she called a chance for the band to show off its talents and skills. McCullough said, “The travel, the meals together, we miss that.” From football games to the trip for Hawaii planned for last May, McCullough said that all these experiences would have been valuable for band members.

The director noted the challenges that practicing and playing during a pandemic have caused.

McCullough said, “If want to look at all my years at Cathedral, yes we’re a little behind, but if you look at what we’ve had to deal with, I think we’re doing great.” She acknowledged her members for their progress, she said, “These kids are astonishing, and I credit our upper class. They know what needs to be done and they are so positive and helpful and they work with the freshmen or the first-year kids.”

McCullough thanked the band for their efforts, saying, “I’m one person. I can’t get 101 kids to do everything, but the upper classes and the guard captains and the drum majors, and the section leaders, It’s their band and they are working to make it work.”