After a lengthy break following the holiday performance season due to the Omicron variant to COVID-19, the Maine Pops Concert Band will resume weekly rehearsals March 2 in preparation for the 2021-2022 Winter-Spring Season.
The Maine Pops Board of Directors – during its February 9 meeting - agreed that in-person rehearsals would begin on March 2 at the Mountainside Community Church in Falmouth. This would be the first gathering of Maine Pops musicians since the Christmas benefit concert held at the Mountainside venue on December 15.
Although hospitalization and case rates regarding Omicron are dropping throughout Maine, the variant is still present and of concern. The band will continue to exercise caution, and resume health and safety steps implemented last fall during our indoor rehearsal schedule. COVID-19 vaccinations remain an important part of the band’s operations. All members must be “up-to-date” with their vaccinations, meaning that musicians having received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible.
In resuming these sessions, band president Bob Swerdlow emphasized that members must make their own decisions about attending the indoor rehearsals, indicating that the band is not going to mandate attendance for those not ready to resume. “If you decide not to come for now, that's okay,” said Swerdlow. “We are happy to have you re-join rehearsals once conditions improve.”
A new step toward lowering risk to musicians will be sectional rehearsals that will begin March 2 at Mountainside. Brass and percussion will rehearse in the church’s fellowship hall as in previous sessions, but the woodwinds will rehearse separately in the church sanctuary. The split allows more space between musicians, and provides an opportunity for sections to initially concentrate on specific music. The plan is to spend the first month in sections, then combine the band in early April for normal rehearsals. Band director David Watts will spend time with both groups at each rehearsal, but he is also looking to have a couple of band director members conduct sessions that he is not attending.
The band will continue to adhere to the health and safety policy of Mountainside Community Church. All musicians must be masked when not rehearsing.Those having instrumental masks may use them if they wish. There will be breaks to “air out” the rooms during each two-hour session. Musicians must use bell covers on instruments whenever possible.
The band will provide updates regarding the spring rehearsal schedule on the band’s internal social media pages, on the public website, and through the “Maine Pops Tribune.”