Adapting to changes and being flexible have been essential for music educators during the pandemic, which Kristopher Chandler was forced to do. He came up with some creative solutions — one planned and one not — to help his music students at Gautier High School.
In the spring of 2021, Chandler hosted a Rehears-A-Thon weekend for his wind ensemble students to help them with their performance on their spring assessment literature and to reignite their fire and passion for music that was damaged during the ongoing pandemic. “We invited band directors from all over the state to lead sectionals, and had Dr. Colin McKenzie from the University of Southern Mississippi rehearse the full ensemble segment — all while remaining socially distant and wearing the necessary PPE,” Chandler says. “In total, the students and clinicians experienced approximately 12 hours of intense, yet engaging and enjoyable, learning!”
That summer, Band Camp 2021, was moved to a virtual platform after the first day because Chandler and several staff members tested positive for COVID, despite being fully vaccinated. The band staff and student leadership team devised a plan for the virtual camp including instructional videos, individual practice plans, music and marching fundamentals pass-off videos, and daily check-ins with staff and student leaders via Google Meets. “While we have a talented band staff, our incredible student leadership team was the driving force behind making our virtual band camp a success,” Chandler says.
The Gautier Band Program prides itself on operating each day as a true team, which includes four full-time band directors, one color guard coordinator and one part-time guard tech. “Our team sees every student in our program every day by teaching courses on multiple campuses,” Chandler says. “We truly complement each other and it’s a joy working with these incredible educators every day. But we cannot do our job without great students and a great educational community. The Gautier band program has high goals for the future, and we are eager to continue working!”