New Mexico music educators push state leaders to allow in-person band

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While student athletes and parents across the state have been pushing for hybrid learning so sports can resume, music students are also itching to get back to the practice field.

“It’s really noisy in our house first thing in the morning,” said Lisa Gunderson, the proud mom of three APS band students. “There’s some gene in our family that music is natural for these guys.”

However, Gunderson said she’d still prefer if they could practice in person, on a field, with COVID-safe practices.

“We personally live half a block from the marching field,” described Gunderson. “The joy of listening to them practice at 6 a.m.”

That’s why she’s asking the state to allow in person band.

“Music is a huge part of their life and they miss it so much,” said Gunderson. “We have special masks that the kids can play based off of the opening, based off how they hold the instrument in their mouth. We can do it after school. They can be six, seven feet apart," she said.

That same problem exists at Rio Rancho Public Schools where hybrid learning is available.

“Now you’ve got half your kids at home, half your kids in school. The kids at home can play, the kids in school can’t,” said RRPS Director of Fine Arts, Kurt Schmidt.

In person learning means no singing or playing wind instruments—something they also think the state should reconsider.

“The most recent science, which says that you can do these activities safely, or more safely with certain mitigation techniques,” explained Schmidt.

Teachers have gotten creative, but rehearsing virtually is difficult with the with audio and visual delays.

“Being in a music ensemble involves listening to the environment around you, and reacting to what you hear,” said Cleveland High School Band Teacher Joshua Dumais.

They hope state leaders will hear and react to what they’re saying now.

“There’s something that wakes everyone up every day,” said Dumais. “For a ton of students here in Rio Rancho, I think that’s music.”

“Our kids want to be back too, and we have proof that it can be done safely,” said Gunderson.