LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The COVID-19 pandemic separated students from school, sports, and even music. But the Las Vegas Valley's largest high school band improvised to keep playing on during the shutdown.
On April 6, for the first time this school year, the entire Foothill Band is in person together. What many of them are most excited about is a chance to be with their friends in person again.
A reunion that comes with some new equipment: band specific masks were handed out. There's a slit near the mouth and a flap over the top.
"It’s a little scary its just not what we're used to and now here we are in April and now it’s the first time I'm seeing them."
Before this, band leader Travis Pardee only saw his group of nearly 200 band students through the camera on his computer.
"We're building the plane as we fly it," Pardee said.
But as the saying goes: the show must go on.
Dressed in tuxedos and black dresses, the Foothill High School Band premiered their first virtual concert in December, from home. This performance of the Flight of Falcons was supposed to be played on stage at Ham Hall, with a crowd, on March 13, 2020.
"Literally the day they announced don't go back to school and we were supposed to get on buses that day to go to Ham Hall and premiere that piece and the kids didn't get to do it."
So for more than a year, the band has continued on practicing and attending classes from home. Some of the band members told FOX5 it hasn't been easy, or nearly as fun.
"At home its just really boring..when you're just at home you feel really unmotivated to practice."
So the teachers got creative, coming up with new ideas to keep the students engaged while having some fun too. Director of orchestra and jazz Dean Snavely rewrote the Foothill fight song in "four-part writing." Then he turned that into a March Madness competition -- the kids sent in their videos, and then voted for the winners.
"Several of those kids that I've been in contact with have actually used this time as a benefit...that they've gone, 'I have more time to practice.'"
The Foothill band is the biggest in Clark County School District and in years past has performed in Europe and in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year Pardee says the new definition of success is just being back in person.
After some more practice, the goal is to end the school year with one in-person performance that will be streamed for an audience.