Around the County: The beat goes on.

January 20, 2021

Around the County: The beat goes on.

Around the County is a presentation of Peterson Farms, Inc.,

SHELBY — COVID-19 has taken its toll on nearly every facet of life, including live performances.

Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, the Shelby marching bands have kept the beat going — under the leadership of Director Curt Isakson and Assistant Director Erin Ray.

“With the pandemic causing major disruption to the regular schedules of all classes including band, our program has changed dramatically,” said Isakson. “Though we plan on coming back strong next school year, we have been adapting to serve the students of Shelby with opportunities to continue to be involved in music.

“Band students at Shelby Public Schools were called upon to grow as individuals and musicians during the challenges of remote learning and smaller class sizes,” said Isakson.


The director, who has always stressed the importance of community-building through the band’s participation in familiar, popular events, also introduced additional activities on a voluntary basis to keep these public performances alive, while following safety requirements. 

“The band has always tried to be as much of a community band as a school band when it comes to performances and events happening in the area,” he said. “With the pandemic, the community events, parades, and athletic games have almost completely disappeared, leaving the band with not many opportunities to do what they do well — play for their families and friends.”


With the band drastically changed in format and numbers from prior years, the musicians were still able to put together several projects that helped the community and kids get through this troubled time. Events included two football game performances, and a virtual concert band where each student made recordings of themselves and Isakson edited them into one band. Assistant Director Ray did a similar project with eighth graders at Christmas time.  

Despite having classroom rehearsals of only about 15 students at a time, the band was able to get a volunteer group of students who practiced in the evening and performed for two football games this year. 

With limited class size and instrumentation, the high school students created a virtual band in which each student watched Isakson direct in silence a march and they each sent in a recording of themselves playing their part. This way, the entire band was able to contribute to the whole.


“One of the biggest losses were the annual Christmas concerts the middle school and high school put on each year,” said Isakson. “Though the high school band students were sent home for the majority of December and weren’t able to play, Ray — the director of the Shelby Middle School Bands — was able to capture a little Christmas spirit with her recording and video of the eighth grade band.

Despite all of the obstacles due to the pandemic, the Tigers’ resourcefulness have allowed them to continue marching on.

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