PITTSBURG, Kan. — The Pittsburg High School marching band brought music to the residents of Carrington Place Senior Living on Thursday, Oct. 1 with a parking lot concert.
Approximately 65 members of the PHS marching band — plus the flag core and a baton twirler — gathered in Carrington’s parking lot across the street from their school at 5 p.m. while residents watched at a safe distance from their windows or front porches.
The band performed such classics as the national anthem, the PHS fight song, "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen.
For most of the students, the concert marked the first time in months they had gathered together to perform. Drum major Emma Noonoo, a senior at PHS, said although maybe unconventional, it was just good to be able to perform.
"We haven’t really gotten to do a full band performance outside of just the national anthem and it just felt really great to finally play with everybody for a performance," Noonoo said.
Cooper Neil, band and orchestra director at PHS, was the mastermind behind the idea and said he felt that it would be good for both the kids and the Carrington residents.
"When everything was getting canceled, or should have been getting canceled, it felt like there were still needs that need to be filled and there was still a role for music to play in a safe way," he said. "It was this idea that ‘oh, we’re going to be rehearsing in a parking lot concert all year, and all of these people in residential facilities have been cooped up, little to no visitors, what are they looking forward to from day to day?’ So I thought what a perfect opportunity. Just open up windows, it can be such a low-pressure event, we just wander over and play some music. It just felt like a very special opportunity."
The band took the necessary precautions to make the performance as safe as possible. They were outside, stood six feet apart, used horn covers and masked up. The residents were mostly gathered in the dining room, though some did sit on their porch.
"While we couldn’t see our audience it was nice to know that they were there," said Christopher Saman, a senior band member at PHS.
A small group of Pittsburg State marching band members even joined the performance. Alejandra Cornelio, an alum of PHS and the marching band, said it was nice to perform not only with her alma mater but in a larger group again.
"I’m just glad we’re performing music in general," Cornelio said. "I was really nervous we wouldn’t be."
Neil said music is always important, and he was willing to do what it took to make sure his students could still do the thing they love.
"I think music is important now just in the same way I think music is important in any other time," he said. "Music is an expression. Music is a communication."
Going forward the band will be prepping for the field show that they hope to perform at some football games, but Neil also says they will be doing some other performances much like the one they did on Thursday. He said they have planned an upcoming performance at Via Christi Village nursing home as well as others that he has yet to plan.
"I’m trying not to plan events too far in advance right now," Neil said.
Neil said there are lots of exciting things he is trying to make happen this semester because it was important for him to be able to adapt during these uncertain times.
"It’s all different, but I think one of the advantages of this time is if you do think differently and just don’t try to make whatever you have always done work in this time period, you’re going to come up with a better product," he said. "But if you just try to make what you have always done fit into this time period, then you’re just going to have a crappier product."