A look at how the Marching Illini is practicing in the age of COVID

The Marching Illini have unfortunately been unable to perform this semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the band members still have to keep up their level of skill with the instruments, so how do they practice during a pandemic?

Like most classes, the Marching Illini is using Zoom to come together and practice.

Of course, this means that the practices cannot be conducted (ha) as they used to be, so innovation had to come in play.

While the band members still practice their instruments in breakout rooms, when everyone is in the main room, things are much more different.

Instead of focusing on playing the instruments, the band spends their time learning about the history of the Marching Illini, as well as practicing their marching. They also have guest speakers come into the Zoom sessions.

But of course, this isn’t the best scenario for everyone, including freshman and seniors. Unfortunately for seniors, they miss out on some final events.

“There was no senior football game for me, there was no last time for me to do run,” band member Lydia Lathan said. “So, I think that’s what I’m missing the most is just the opportunity to make the last times of things more memorable then they were last year.”

And some freshmen have yet to meet some of their team mates in person, as is the case for the Illinetts.

“[The freshmen] didn’t get to meet their teammates until August, they didn’t get to come to campus until August,” Illinetts member Johnna Jones said. “And some of them we still haven’t met face to face because it’s all been virtual.”

But the freshmen are still eager to eventually get out there and perform in Memorial Stadium.

“I can see Memorial Stadium from this window right now and it pains me to look at it especially on Saturday’s when I know we could be out there with my drum doing the thing,” Marching Illini freshman Matt Kostbade said.

But at the very least, they are all glad that they still can play the instruments that they love, somewhat.

Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is now on his third year with Good Morning Illini, previously serving as director, reporter and crew member. He is also currently a digital intern for WILL, the NPR- and PBS- affiliate in Urbana and vice-president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists University of Illinois chapter. He also has his own podcast with fellow GMI-er Angelle Cortes called Just Chillin’. He brings previous experience as a features intern at The News-Gazette and as a daytime news editor at The Daily Illini. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JoseZepedaTV.