The cancellation of fall sports and Lehigh’s decision to shift toward mostly remote learning has put plans for the Marching 97 in question this semester.
The Lehigh marching band has represented Mountain Hawk Pride and engaged both students and alumni since 1906.
Executive members are concerned not only about striking a balance between the health and safety of their members, but about addressing issues like first-year engagement and keeping important school traditions alive.
Michael Hill, ‘22, said they are considering recording their fight songs for events like Founder’s Day and the First Year Rally, which have been scheduled to be online.
“I definitely don’t think we could have a large gathering of 100 people any time soon, so whatever we can do virtually, I think is our best option,” Hill said.
Mackenna Brody, ‘22, Marching 97’s librarian, said she agrees that though virtual performances aren’t ideal for a marching band, health and safety is the main priority.
She said she would ultimately rather give up a band season than sacrifice the health and safety of fellow members.
While a popular Lehigh-Lafayette tradition is for the band to storm into classes the day before the Le-Laf game, Hill said the Marching 97 could keep that ritual alive by coming into classes on Zoom to perform for students, but recognized some issues with the logistics.
“I know it’s definitely hard for the music community to do stuff online because you can’t have 100 people on a Zoom call, everyone has different time zones, and it’s hard to keep time when everyone is online, so it’s definitely a challenge,” Hill said. “We have to brainstorm different ideas and keep the spirit up.”
Margaret Huettner, ‘21, the drum major, said she is concerned not only for their upcoming new members, but for all first-years coming to campus this fall.
She said she is worried about how first-years will be able to make friends and join clubs during this unprecedented time.
“Hopefully, clubs will step up and figure out a way they will still meet regularly, and not just have it be another boring Zoom call,” Huettner said.
Hill said the Marching 97 is addressing concerns about first year engagement by hosting virtual social events and planning a virtual band camp.
“We all created a GroupMe, we have done a PowerPoint introductory night, we’ve done JackBox games, and we are doing a virtual movie night,” Hill said. “I think it’s about keeping that up and keeping them engaged. It’s so important.”
Though the band is creating plans to integrate new members and make the upcoming semester work, there is no doubt the members are “disappointed by the circumstances,” Huettner said.
Huettner said as a senior, she is going to miss game day the most, especially conducting the entire band on the field and during the tailgate route and playing in the stands.
Despite the uncertainty for the fall semester, the Marching 97 has no plans of letting the school spirit die out, Brody said.
“In terms of school spirit, I think it’s really just remembering why we are in a band and why we love doing what we do,” Brody said.