Columbus High School band drums up excitement

COLUMBUS, Wis. — Middle and high schools across the nation are facing a shortage of band members. Band directors in our area are finding creative ways to keep their students marching.

The performance put on Sunday by Columbus High School’s marching Cardinals was the first for the band in front of an audience in nearly two years. Stifled by the pandemic, the band was forced to stop such performances in 2020.

“We lost an entire year of marching,” said band director Tim Meinholz.

Meinholz says that throughout the pandemic, he’s faced challenges in adapting to the hybrid teaching format offered by Columbus last fall, which became even more difficult when they went fully virtual in November.

“I found that without the leadership of the upperclassmen, the underclassmen didn’t develop as quickly,” said Meinholz. “It’s really difficult to do this virtually.”

Without in-person classes, he also faced problems attracting new band members, something he remedied by recruiting kids as young as 7th grade to join.

“Across the board, you’re seeing a lot of the programs’ numbers are down,” said Meinholz.

But one difficulty Meinholz never encountered was unmotivated students.

“They couldn’t wait to get back together,” he said. “When they got back they appreciated it a lot more than they did prior.”

Tonight, students said they were anxious, but excited to perform again.

It’s a little nerve-wracking not having performed for a while,” said senior clarinet player Nate Koehler. “But it’ll be good.”

Overall, the Columbus High School band is looking forward to a new school year.

“The students and the parents have been fantastic this year, so I’m really looking forward to a great season for our kids,” said Meinholz.