In our current state of chaos and confusion as a high school and as a society, our new teachers have a particularly tough task in front of them. Not only do they have to navigate a new work environment, but they must do so in the middle of a global pandemic. While this may seem like an impossible feat, new HHS band director Cody Hollow isn’t shying away from the challenge.
“I’m comfortable in this setting, and I love teaching and being around kids. So, I wasn’t nervous about the job just anxious about figuring out how to teach band during a pandemic,” Hollow said.
As the new school year drew nearer, the question, “Will we be able to safely play our instruments?” rang through students’ minds often. Trying to figure out the band situation during corona season has been no easy task. “I knew there would be many obstacles this year. A lot of kids have dropped out of performance groups this year, so my numbers have suffered. It has been hard to plan for the school days with so many unknown factors. I was somewhat unsure how band kids would react to having a new band teacher after having Mr. Loveridge for so many years. Especially with the way last school year ended,” Hollow said.
Mr. Hollow had some hoops to jump through to get special safety gear available to his students. Special masks with slits cut in them, as well as instrument bell covers were developed in the hopes of creating a safer way for horn players to participate. However, these masks didn’t arrive until October, so students were unable to play in the band room until them.
With manufacturing troubles and shipping delays, the only option for ensemble rehearsals was to relocate outside. But in the spirit of “kicking a man while he’s down,” it was often too smokey to play outside.
Through it all Mr. Hollow has stayed determined, choosing to focus more on the world of music theory by teaching new scales and modes, and the logic behind them. He has worked with his students on articulation and fingerings and even tried his hand at conducting the famous Helena High fight song “Washington and Lee” while rehearsing outside. He is also searching for music arrangements for the classes to play if band concerts are every permitted.
“Not being able to play wind instruments in class is the most difficult challenge for sure. Waiting for our performance masks has been stressful. It has been great playing some music outside, but the smoke made that impossible last week. Through all these challenges the band kids have remained patient and flexible. I appreciate everyone giving me a chance while we navigate these weird times,” he said.
“I want to build on the strong foundation Mr. Loveridge has built over the years. I would love to see the overall numbers go up across the band program. I look forward to finding fun ways to collaborate with my music colleagues, Mr. Harris and Ms. Steele. I would love to find opportunities to perform in the Helena community and bring our music to different parts of town. There is a ton of potential for performance if we can get through these challenging times. I also plan to start a percussion ensemble and drumline class in the future, if approved. I’m a percussionist, so I want to help build those skills with the HHS percussionists.”
With all the uncertainties in this department, one thing is certain: Mr. Hollow is doing a great job surmounting the obstacles before him.