Frost School of Music Band of the Hour rehearses on the Intramural Fields

Frost band marches to a new cadence

By Kelly Montoya

Frost band marches to a new cadence

By Kelly Montoya
The Frost School of Music’s Band of the Hour discovers new ways to deliver school spirit at the Hard Rock Stadium and on campus amid the pandemic.

For many, the Miami Hurricanes football season is an experience defined by the energy, sights, and sounds that the University of Miami Frost School of Music Band of the Hour echoes across the Hard Rock Stadium. 

Although the pandemic has temporarily altered the typical game experience, the Frost Band of the Hour will continue to march on this semester, but to a new cadence—one that prioritizes COVID-19 related health precautions, addresses proper social distancing measures, and innovates ways to still deliver the same school spirit ’Canes are familiar with. 

The Frost Band of the Hour wasn’t at the season opener at Hard Rock Stadium and won’t appear at this weekend’s game, but fans can still expect to see and hear the band’s energy buzzing through the jumbo screens, which will play their newly recorded content, while they stay back on campus to hype students during socially distanced pregame pep rallies. 

“I know there are so many people working behind the scenes to provide a safe and fun game day experience at the stadium, and we’ve been working right along them to create content we know will liven up the stadium and bring up the spirits of all who attend,” said Darien Mozingo, a returning sophomore majoring in music therapy.  “It will be different from what we've done in the past, but just as spectacular,” he added. 

After being quarantined for five months and dealing with such an uncertain summer, Mozingo is grateful for all the hard work and planning that went into making band rehearsals a possibility again. 

“It is such a privilege to be a part of the band any semester, but especially this semester,” he said. “It allows for some semblance of normalcy. Because I'm doing what I've done every year, even if there are so many different aspects to it. It’s really a treat to be able to be with my friends, doing what we love, and making an obvious impact on the people around us.”

But getting to a point where the band was able to resume rehearsals was not an easy feat, explained Jay Rees, the director. 

“One thing that we felt strongly about, even with the uncertainty of sporting events, was that bringing back the University of Miami Frost Band of the Hour mattered and was important to the morale of our campus community,” he explained.  “So,” he added, “we really had to look at ways on how to do that safely and effectively.” 

With guidance from the College Band Directors National Association, Rees—alongside health experts, other band directors, and educators—spent the summer leading peer review studies that examined the effects of respiratory droplets, aerosol transmissions of wind and band instruments, and the importance of mask wearing and proper social distancing. 

“We all turned to science in order to really understand how to mitigate the infection risk of the virus and put together protocols to come up with a plan that would work in this new normal,” said Rees.

Frost Band of the Hour practices on the intramural fields

The plan Rees developed and implemented for the band is multifaceted. It requires band members to follow specific instructions, such as standing at least eight feet apart at all times, marking specific locations on the field, staggered rehearsal arrival times for different members of the band, and mandatory health checks every day.  “We really had to rethink and reinvent the way we do everything,” he pointed out. 

There are so many new safety measures in place during band rehearsals that “it's impossible to feel unsafe during practice,” Mozingo shared. 

“We keep our masks on at all times, and we have masks that we use when we're playing, too,” he explained. “We're all over six feet apart from each other at all times, and we have bell covers on every single instrument." 

The band is also using the FlipFolder app, which downloads all of the music they will need for rehearsal into each individual’s phones, so nothing is passed around and there are no risks of contact with another band member. 

“We're all required to bring our own water jugs to rehearsal, and we aren't allowed to share things like sunblock or valve oil anymore,” he said. "We have to get a health check done before we're allowed on the field, which includes getting our temperature taken from a safe distance and answering questions about any symptoms we may have,” he added. 

“If we don't meet all of these requirements, we aren't allowed to come to rehearsal that day,” he pointed out. “This entire process makes me feel safe, because I know that everyone around me is taking care of themselves and being responsible enough to keep the rest of us safe.” 

Carly Battipaglia, a junior who is studying sociology and criminology, really felt the effects of abruptly ending practice earlier in the year and is now doing everything in her power to keep herself and fellow bandmates healthy so that it doesn’t happen again. 

“My biggest takeaway is to never take what you love for granted, because you never know when it could be suddenly taken away from you. So, I am taking the safety measures very seriously to take care of my health as well as the health of everyone in the band,” she said.   

For Kelin Monahan, a first-year undergraduate student majoring in industrial engineering, this is still an exciting time even though it looks different than he anticipated. 

“I am just excited to be able to perform with the Band of the Hour during this strange time,” said Monahan. “We have an opportunity that some bands around the country have already lost, so I'm going to make the most of it.”  

There were moments, Rees said, when he was genuinely concerned that the new way of rehearsing was going to be a lonely and isolating experience for the students. 

“Very soon into it, I was knocked out with how joyful and happy everybody was to be making music again,” said Rees.  “All the band members have been amazingly respectful, professional, responsible, and accountable,” he added. “There’s not a student who's making any bad choices about how to approach this.” 

In addition to the football game pep rallies, The Frost Band of the Hour will play at the Lakeside Patio stage on October 23 at 4:30 p.m.