Going into halftime of a Texas State football game, fans typically see the band, in maroon and gold uniforms, flood the field ready to perform the Bobcat Fight Song. However, halftime performances will change this football season, allowing fans to hear and see “The Pride of the Hill Country” in a new way.
When Texas State transitioned to online learning in March due to COVID-19, not many knew how the fall semester would look for athletic programs, including the Bobcat Marching Band.
Dr. Kyle Glaser, associate professor of music and associate director of bands, oversees and conducts the band. As directed by the Sun Belt Conference, Glaser says the Bobcat Marching Band will not be allowed on the field this school year, omitting the typical pregame and halftime performances Bobcat fans are accustomed to.
“Because of this unique situation, we are finding ways to highlight other elements of our program,” Glaser says. “We are typically allocated seven or eight minutes at halftime for a performance. This year’s halftime shows will probably look like a few minutes of live music from the stands [and] a few minutes of pre-recorded videos of the band doing drill and music.”
The Bobcat Marching Band usually prepares for the upcoming season by learning drills, new music and by introducing incoming freshmen to veteran band members. However, due to the university recommending students quarantine for two weeks prior to their return to campus, the usual 10-day pre-season band camp was condensed into three days.
During the three days, band members learned drills designed to maintain social distancing and were allowed time to adjust to playing their instruments with their new performers’ masks—regular masks with slits.
Despite the changes to halftime performances and pre-game shows, Glaser says he does not mind the alterations as long as band students can do what they love and stay healthy while doing so.
“We are cautiously optimistic as a staff and as a band,” Glaser says. “I’m really happy with the safety protocols we have put into place. I just want to make sure all of our students follow through and do what they are supposed to do. We stress individual accountability with our band members. We are also optimistic about the ability to be together again, support Texas State Athletics again and play music again.”
During her first band practice as a freshman, current drum major Nicole Soler, a music education junior, says she longed for the day she would earn the drum major title after witnessing her predecessors’ abilities to lead and take charge during practice and halftime performances.
Soler says the most exciting part of preparing for the upcoming season is watching both staff and band members step out of their comfort zones.
“I think one of the really cool things is we are just getting to experiment,” Soler says. “During a normal season, there really isn’t a need for us to question the way we do things because it has been this set tradition and process. I think for everyone, [COVID-19] has made them step back and think ‘okay, this is how I [normally] do this activity; how can I not only change it but improve it?’”
Soler says the program added electronic flip folders helpful to students who may forget their sheet music. They also make accessing music easier for when case members need to practice before a game.
When she first started college, trumpet section leader Cassidy Bodisch, a business administration junior, says she was hesitant to join the marching band after switching her major, fearing she would not share similar interests with other members.
But on her first day of practice, she was welcomed with open arms by the directors and students, instantly feeling a part of the community. Now, Bodisch says social distancing protocols have made it challenging to conduct certain traditions that once connected her with fellow bandmates.
To keep her bandmates motivated, Bodisch says she brainstorms fun ways to connect freshmen, the trumpet section and the rest of the marching band members together.
“The trumpets have an annual party called the Trumpy Banana,“ Bodisch says. “It’s a party where we all get together. It is typically hosted at one of the section leaders’ apartments, and this year it was supposed to be mine. I’m thinking about doing something virtual just to get everyone together in a space where we can see everyone.”
Texas State football kicks off its season Sept. 5 against SMU at Bobcat Stadium. The stadium, and all other Texas State sporting venues, is limited to 25% capacity.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Cassidy Bodisch’s last name. It has since been corrected; we deeply apologize for this error.