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April 20, 2020

MMU University Band Still Making Music During Quarantine

TUNING THEIR SKILLS

Joining 20 other colleges and universities across the country, Mount Mercy’s University band is part of a commission of a work composed by Ryan Williams for virtual wind ensemble.

The project, dubbed the “Mandatory Social Distancing for (Virtual) Wind Ensemble,” requires participating musicians to record themselves playing along to a track of the rest of the ensemble. When the project is published to YouTube on May 1, it will show each participant playing their part in sync with everyone else.

“This sense of urgency brought unique challenges associated with producing meaningful musical ensemble rehearsal and performance experience to our university students,” said Director Steve Stickney. “My goal was to provide my students with a truly unique musical opportunity to make music in this time of social isolation.”

My goal was to provide my students with a truly unique musical opportunity to make music in this time of social isolation.

Steve Stickney
Band Director

Stickney also recorded himself and will be a part of the final product.

“I enjoyed the challenge of playing my part as close to perfect as possible,” said Stickney. “For your recording to fit with all the other recorded submissions, you must wear headphones and play your part perfectly in sync with a click track.”

“I enjoyed the challenge of playing my part as close to perfect as possible.”

Stickney also provided band members another opportunity to keep playing their instrument. Using SmartMusic, an online software designed to help students perfect their part, students are able to keep working on music they were planning on performing for the now cancelled spring concert.

Mount Mercy’s band program has grown exponentially under Stickney’s supervision, from around 20 in 2016 to nearly 70 today. Stickney served as director of bands at Linn-Mar High School and Iowa City High School and served as president of the Iowa Band Masters Association prior to joining Mount Mercy University as Director of Bands in 2017.

During a typical semester, the band meets twice a week on Monday nights and Wednesday afternoons. Due to the pandemic, the band now meets virtually at 7 p.m. on Monday nights.