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University band gets creative in order to practice music safely amid COVID-19 pandemic

UA-Little Rock band students are grateful to continue practicing music in a safe environment, with a tent over their head and masks for each individual instrument.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Although many school activities have had to put a pause on their plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, band students at one central Arkansas university have found their own safe way to adapt.

At the UA-Little Rock campus, there's a tent standing outside with several musically-inclined jazz students underneath it.

"The tent that we have here allows us to be able to practice outside. We still practice social distancing," explained Ken Goff, Director of Bands at UA-Little Rock.

But the tent isn't the only socially-distant precaution the band is taking.

"The instruments that our students are playing, they all have their own individual mask, which is kind of a neat thing," Goff said. "This allows us to be able to perform."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, playing wind and brass instruments can generate respiratory droplets and aerosols that may contain the COVID-19 virus if a person is infected. Instrument masks are important to minimize the generation of those droplets and aerosols.

While Goff admits the students aren't set up like the traditional jazz band or wind ensemble, he says his students are just happy to be able to play their instruments together in a safe environment.

"The students in the music department know that these guidelines are there to help them continue to do music, and so they have been terrific in following the guidelines," Goff explained. "I never have to say anything to a student because they know that this is an opportunity that not everyone has."

In the midst of a pandemic, Goff says he's just grateful for an opportunity for his students to continue to grow musically with their friends. 

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