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University of Idaho marching band plays on amid coronavirus pandemic

For the last 100 years, the Vandal Marching Band has played through rain, shine, and now, a pandemic.

MOSCOW, Idaho — We've all heard the old saying, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." 

This year, the University of Idaho's Vandal Marching Band is mixing up a big batch of musical "lemonade."

With no football in the university's Kibbe Dome this year, band members decided to adapt to the situation and make the most of their talents.

"Why not?  Why can't you have a heavy metal rock band mixed in with the drumline mixed in with a non-marching, bin-playing band?" director of athletic bands at the University of Idaho Spencer Martin said. "Why can't you do that, why not?"

Because of the pandemic, every band member is now a percussionist, using Rubbermaid bins in lew of brass or woodwind instruments, which Martin determined were too much of a transmission risk.

In addition, all band members must wear a mask or face shield and keep at least six feet of distance between each other.

"Instead of thinking about those limitations, let's lean into those limitations and go 'What can we create under this brand new scenario?'" Martin said. "What kind of craft, what kind of art, what kind of music we can create."

For the last 100 years, the Vandal Marching Band has played through rain, shine, and now, a pandemic. The students, however, were very open to this idea.

"We asked them to be very vulnerable. To have students say, in the middle of a pandemic, that we're going to show up and we're going to show up for band," Martin said. "They seem to enjoy it. I mean, they're still coming to class. We're seven weeks in and they're still here."

One student said learning a new instrument has been difficult, but taking a deep breath and trying is all they can do.

"It's weird to say that we've been having a lot of fun during a pandemic, that sounds terrible," Martin said. "But it's been an absolutely rewarding semester, a rewarding experience. And something, at least speaking for myself, that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It's been a phenomenal year thus far."

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