The Blugold Athletic Band prepares to perform once again

University band will focus on its community outreach for spring semester

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Music will be in the air as the Blugold Athletic Band starts playing again in late March. 

Abbey Keister, a fourth-year music education student and director of BAB, said although BAB hasn’t been able to play at any sports events, they have been able to focus on their goal of community outreach by planning for performances around Eau Claire. 

“We are just starting to line up specific venues,” Keister said. “But our goal is to play outside of hospitals, senior living establishments and local parks.” 

According to its Facebook page, all of the band’s rehearsals will be outside, and all scheduling will be subject to change due to COVID-19 protocols and weather.

BAB is a student organization on campus that usually played at sporting events prior to COVID-19. Their overall goal is to support student-athletes and bring the community together through music, Keister said. 

“Currently, most members of BAB are freshman and sophomores,” Keister said. “Very few of our members are music majors. This organization is for people who want to continue to play their instrument and meet new people.”

Any UWEC student can get involved in BAB and still get involved for this year, but only for a short time, Keister said. 

Students can receive service-learning for attending BAB events, Keister said. Band directors take attendance and if a student attends a certain number of events, they can earn 15 hours of service-learning.

UW-Eau Claire requires service learning (community service) as a way to build relationships in a student’s life, establish personal connections for the future and learn responsibilities. 

According to the UWEC’s service-learning page, there are various opportunities for students to fulfill these requirements, including performing with BAB. 

Prior to the pandemic, BAB was a ‘come when you can’ organization, Keister said. They would make a schedule, and members would show up when they could. 

“We usually had a set group of people that would be at every game along with a group of people that would come to just a few games,” Keister said. “Last season, numbers were so high we had to limit how many people were playing at a time because it was too loud for Zorn Arena.”

In order to contact trace for COVID-19 numbers, they have to ensure every member will go to every game, Keister said.

There are currently 25 members but are hoping for more as they start performances again, Keister said. 

Jack Ford, a third-year music composition student and vice-president of BAB, said due to COVID-19, BAB won’t be able to play at sporting events. 

“COVID-19 has put a stop to doing the events that BAB would normally do,” Ford said. “However, we did reach out to the coaches to see how we can still support the team.” 

Last Wednesday, the executive board — made up of five members of BAB — and a few of the band members, got together and made posters to support both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Ford said. 

When full rehearsal starts, the band will be following all Music and Theatre Arts department guidelines as well as the guidelines put in place for student organizations, Keister said. This involves wearing a mask, having minimal close contact and maintaining six feet of distance. 

“We have to add bell covers on every instrument as well as special masks that fit the mouthpiece of the instrument correctly. There are limits to how many people can play inside at one time. Because of this, all our rehearsals will be outside,” Keister said. 

This is hopefully just a temporary situation, Ford said. He said they’re hoping for things to get closer to normal and be able to play at sporting events again. 

For any questions about signing up or anything else, students can email Keister at [email protected] or check out the BAB Facebook page. 

Lunderville can be reached at [email protected]