By Jessica King
Staff Writer

The 73rd Apache Marching Band is the only band in Tyler Junior College’s history to face challenges brought by COVID-19 and is learning how to make music and perform in a new way. According to Jeremy Strickland, director of bands and professor of music at TJC, the Apache Band has been “inspirational” to watch as they have shown, “so much willingness to overcome adversity.”
In compliance with TJC’s COVID-19 procedures, the Apache Band has taped six-by-six foot grids on the floor of Gentry Gymnasium, where each student’s chair, stand, and belongings stay. Students also keep a mask on when they are not playing their instrument, according to Strickland. It challenges students,“to have to listen more than they would normally listen and pay attention in ways they haven’t had to pay attention [before],” Strickland said.
In addition to these precautions, the Apache arching band will be a little more spread out than usual. Every student brings their own water, takes care of their individual uniform, and each instrument gets a considerable amount of cleaning, Strickland said.
Strickland reported it has been tough on both the directors and the students to not be able to perform, but the Apache Band is looking forward to its first wind ensemble concert on Feb. 3 in Wise Auditorium.
“The concert will happen whether we have a live audience or not,” Strickland said. The Apache Marching Band, Strickland said, is anticipating its first halftime performance on April 1. The marching band is also planning on performing at TJC’s basketball and volleyball games once it is safe enough for the doors to be open to fans.
“We maintain distance; we clean things two and three times a day. Every chair, every stand gets wiped down between ensembles,” Strickland said, “so that students aren’t getting quarantined or sick.” A few of Strickland’s priorities for the semester are to maintain safety and health for students and staff, and make sure students are in class so the band will get the opportunity to perform. According to Strickland, the students are being diligent in their efforts to make performing possible.
“The band is 100 times more resilient than I expected them to be,” Strickland said. “They show up daily, do everything we ask them to do, procedures, protocols, social distancing, wearing their mask when we’re not playing — they just do it because they want to play their instruments, they want to perform.”

The overarching goal for the band during COVID, Strickland said, is to “bridge the gap,” from this band to the band to come. This is the 73rd year of the Apache Marching Band, and according to Strickland, it is this band’s responsibility to make sure, “when we get to 74 that there is no change in what we do. The expectation stays the same, the legacy gets to continue, the quality stays the high quality that it is and so they get to bridge the gap, even though there is no band before us that has experienced what we’re experiencing.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges for the Apache Band, “the culture that they’ve built is so much fun,” Strickland said. “We are now attracting students to TJC from big metroplex high school bands, great band programs, students that could literally go to any college in the state and have decided to come to TJC to be in the band. That I’m pretty proud of.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this article on the Apache Band. I did not know that the band had continued after Covid-19, but now I am informed!

  2. The one thing I’ve noticed about athletes and performing arts students is they don’t care about having to wear a mask or do something ridiculous as long as they get to participate in their sport/performance. They do it for the love of what they do not because it’s easy. Thank you for sharing how they band is doing and so glad these student have performances coming up!

  3. I think that its wonderful that even though we are all going through this chaotic time during the pandemic I think its inspiring to see that the
    TJC Apache Band are finding productive ways to perform and stay motivated during this hard time while their facing challenges and learning to overcome them and their just enjoying being present as well as following safety protocols. I also think its so cool that they can draw in other students from big schools and programs and sway their opinions who have the chance too go to the best universities in the states to pursue different opportunities but they decide to come to a small college and chase the dream that is awesome.

  4. Its amazing how a group of indivisuals can come together and work through a world wide pandimic thats gratitude and self inflicted. keep being great

  5. One thing I love about TJC is that the people will go to great lengths to overcome challenges set before them. I love that the band is no exception and think it’s great that they are doing their best to still keep everyone safe as well as doing what they do best.

  6. I commend the TJC’s marching band, I know how hard a lot of the procedures bands are having to undergo due to Covid-19 are first hand. I absolutely love playing my instrument and the extra amount of work Chapel Hill highschool band had to put in in order to do our best was way harder than the previous year. I believe that the determination Mr.Strickland speaks of when it comes to the band wanting to play their instruments is amazing.

  7. Wow! I love how the students and the band director both take action no matter the challenges that they face. They follow the rules to stay safe and keep everyone around them safe. They have love and passion for what they do. I wish them the best!

  8. Really good article. Enjoyed reading the procedures taken to keep all students safe. Hope all of yall stay safe. One critique will be the typo in the 3rd paragraph. Overall its a good article to read when bored.

  9. The atmosphere of a band is so joyful and an amazing experience. I am glad to hear that COVID-19 did not stop these students from being apart of such an amazing environment. It was so heartwarming to read the messaged from the band director as he spoke so well of his students!

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