Getting the band back together: YHS Pep Band performs at football game
Music filled the air at Miner Stadium Friday night as the Yreka High School Pep Band played once again after a long absence in front of fans at a football game.
The crowd got up and cheered as the band played the YHS fight song during the game against Central Valley, and clapped while the band played everything from "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf, to "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we knew it since the YHS football team last stepped foot to play a game in Miner Stadium in Nov of 2019. For one thing, the air holds the promise of spring's bounty, and not the chill of fall. And band members wore masks when they weren't playing their instrument.
The YHS band and music department, which includes the marching band and the voice ensemble, had not performed for the public since the YHS graduation in June, said YHS music director Eric Seiler. “It’s a tradition for us to play at the games ... It's been tough, but we have endured. It’s fulfilling our destiny musically by being out here."
YHS junior Emily-Rose Cannon, who plays the clarinet, said it was nice to be playing for a crowd again. “Being at the games with the band is great,” she said. “It’s just fun to be able to play again. I missed everyone and being out here.”
A few fans went up to Seiler at halftime and told him how much they enjoyed the sound of the band.
Seiler said the band members' love and passion for music has continued throughout the school year. The band still has been practicing, but with restriction. They can't practice indoors, or in a large groups. This means the vocal ensemble and marching band are out, so only pep band is playing.
The musicians have to practice outdoors at a safe distance from one another. They have done this at the old tennis courts at YHS, but rain, snow and cold sometimes makes this impossible.
Even when it is cold, the musicians would often want to go out and practice anyway, Seiler said. They've have also practiced at home to prepare for the moment when they could share their talents with the public.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Yreka high senior Remy Cottrell, who plays the baritone saxophone and plans to major in music education in college at San Jose State, Fresno State or Sacramento State – all schools he's been accepted to. He said he wondered if he'd be able to perform in front of people his senior year. “We all could not wait to be able to play together like this again.”
The YHS band will play twice more this season. They will be at Miner Stadium during the Miners' game against Redding's U-Prep on Friday, April 9, and again on Friday, April 23 against Anderson.