C/O McMaster Marching Band

Going online means something different for many, especially for performance-based clubs

McMaster University has now announced that the winter 2021 term will be online. Students will continue online classes and while the McMaster Students Union has not given official word, many clubs are preparing for the possibility that students will not be able to meet in person for extracurricular activities, such as clubs. 

In previous fall terms, the McMaster Students Union hosted a Clubsfest for clubs to present information about their club and recruit new members. 

With the online fall semester, the MSU offered a virtual Clubsfest via Facebook and Instagram. The MSU has posted descriptions and contact information of various clubs and will continue to do so until Oct. 2.

Many recreational clubs, such as McMaster Yoga Club and MacUke, have announced that they will continue to operate with online meetings. 

However, meetings will look especially different for many performance-based clubs such as the McMaster Marching Band and Absolute Pitch

McMaster Marching Band is open to students of all experience levels and provides them with the opportunity to learn an instrument, as well as perform for local events such as Santa Claus parades. Typically, the band practiced at local churches.

“This year, there will be no in-person rehearsals or performances at local events. However, the band will continue to practice via monthly Masterclasses,” said Mike Cummings, administrative director of the band. 

“This year, there will be no in-person rehearsals or performances at local events. However, the band will continue to practice via monthly Masterclasses,” said Mike Cummings, administrative director of the band. 

Instruments will still be available for students to borrow and the band has a $40 refundable deposit to cover any instrument damage and repair costs.

Funding for the McMaster Marching Band is given through the bylaw 5 fee, which is a non-MSU non-McMaster fee that was decided by a referendum. Cummings explained that the fees not only goes towards staff and uniform costs, but a large portion of the fee is for instruments.

“This year we are going to be running a surplus so that next year we can put more into our instrument purchases because those are quite the investment and they take a lot of funds . . . We’re going to really build that up now so we don’t have to say to anyone “Well we’re actually out of alto saxophones, would you mind playing tenor saxophones?” We don’t like to have that conversation,” said Cummings. 

“This year we are going to be running a surplus so that next year we can put more into our instrument purchases because those are quite the investment and they take a lot of funds . . . We’re going to really build that up now so we don’t have to say to anyone “Well we’re actually out of alto saxophones, would you mind playing tenor saxophones?” We don’t like to have that conversation,” said Cummings. 

Absolute Pitch is another performance-based club that has changed rehearsals this year. As a show choir, members of the club are often involved in both singing and dancing during an in-person school year. The club typically runs a holiday coffee house event in November with a final showcase around March. The final showcase is centred around a theme chosen for the year, and this year, the theme is “best of the decade.”

Following the announcement that the winter semester will be online, the club is still in the process of deciding how the final showcase will look like and whether or not rescheduling is possible. Absolute Pitch President Areeba Sharafuddin said that the club is also considering other alternatives and should restrictions ease up in future months, the club may choose to film a showcase together rather than do one live.

As for the coffee house, Sharafuddin shared that the club may opt for an alternative such as an acapella style video, with members recording individual singing videos and combining them together. 

A fee of $25 is usually required for members of the club. However, Sharafuddin expressed that it has not been decided whether a fee will be needed this year due to a reduction in equipment and rentals. 

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