The Show Must Go On: Camdenton Band Director discusses difficult choice to cancel upcoming competitive season
It’s hard to imagine putting months of preparation into any job, skill, or hobby just to have it all stripped away by something out of your control. For the Camdenton High School Pride of the Lake Marching Band, that was a reality when the crew’s upcoming competitive season was canceled in early July due to COVID concerns.
Camdenton was not unique in this circumstance, as a majority of state-ranked schools participating in these competitions also saw their seasons cancelled. When you step back and look at the logistics of setting these shows up, the choice to cancel was obvious to Band Director Paul Baur.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” Baur said. “When I hit send on the announcement to cancel, the staff and I sat here in this band room and just cried and cried.”
Baur described the struggle of organizing a marching band season, from the need to feed over 200 students and parents to the process of renting out entire hotels during travel and of course, the effort put in to practice the music and choreography. Stack all of this with the added weight of an active viral pandemic, the decision to cancel the season was the right move to make in Baur’s eyes.
“We had a pretty good idea that these shows would be cancelled,” Baur said. “Once Texas pushed back their start date and started cancelling shows, once it happened in Indiana and Illinois and Florida, we knew it was probably best for us to take a step back, take a look at what we do, and make the call early.”
However, though the decision to cancel may have been clear to Baur, that certainly didn’t make it easy. Baur and his crew that design the Pride of the Lake shows begin their work in November for the show that will be performed the following year. This year’s show was already designed from top to bottom. But Baur says that when they looked at the idea of fitting 200+ kids into their band room to practice, they knew what had to be done.
Now that the dust has settled, Baur says he was happy to see the understanding of the parents in this difficult situation. Even more so, he was happy to receive support and encouragement from his students and especially the seniors that will miss out on their last chance to perform nationally in high school. This rings especially true for Baur’s family, as his son Alex is one of those seniors.
Baur says that now, the band’s focus will turn to make this year as much of a success as possible. The band will still practice and perform the show that was designed and will be present at every home Laker football game. Though the intense hours of practice that the group normally will be trimmed down, Baur is still confident that they will be able to shine in the few local performances that they will be able to attend.
This will also serve as practice for what will become the 2021-22 marching band, as Baur confirms that they will hold onto the show that has already been designed and perform it during the next round of national competition, assuming we are back to normal in a year’s time.
At the end of the day, Baur says he and the band have learned to take some appreciation in the new norm that this year brings. He says the band has expressed some excitement to be able to focus on the hometown crowd and to put their all into showing their talents to the community that always stands behind them. With practices resuming on August 3, the Pride of the Lake is only days from getting the band back together.
“Camdenton will still be very proud of their band,” Baur said. “We will still continue to be the Pride of the Lake and that’s what we will always be regardless of the circumstances. While we’ll miss being able to play for competitions nationally, we’re very excited to cheer on the Lakers every Friday night.”