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Keep the Music Playing: The University of Rochester Pep Band

The fall 2020 semester is like nothing ever seen at the University of Rochester. The shift to hybrid classes has been difficult, but professors and students are working to make the transition as smooth as possible. One of these new changes is limiting social gatherings for student organizations. Since acceptable rehearsal space is extremely limited, music ensembles have had to find new ways to keep their members engaged.

One such group is the University of Rochester Pep Band. During a normal semester, the pep band would hold in-person rehearsals once a week. They would also play at any home football or basketball games through the year. Since crowds will not be gathering in the stands this season, the pep band won’t be performing either. However, this hasn’t stopped the pep band from keeping up the spirit!

How do Rehearsals Work?

The pep band hosts bi-weekly meetings over Zoom, but the lag on the platform makes a live rehearsal nearly impossible. Instead, the conductor, Jasper Lemberg (‘23) plays a recording of the piece while the players can see the sheet music. Players who have their instrument and are able to play along with the piece for practice. Afterwards, Lemberg reviews parts of the piece that are usually difficult for the band to play perfectly, like a complex run in the flute section or reminding the clarinet section to play louder. Despite the distance, students in the pep band can continue to participate in music on the River Campus.

An important part of student organizations is the social aspect. Especially now, when in-person interaction is limited and it’s much easier for students to feel isolated on campus. The pep band attempts to solve this problem with game nights or movie sessions. Every other week, during the normal rehearsal hour, the pep band dismisses the music and focuses the entire hour on social interaction. Since several members of the pep band are completing the semester remotely, these social events serve to make them feel less isolated from the campus community in Rochester.

This semester has come with some unique challenges. By adjusting the norm, students and organizations alike can have a successful semester, and await to see what the next year brings.


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