LEXINGTON, Ky. — The CDC’s guidance on January 6 recommended that all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities such as band should be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated. 

What You Need To Know

  • Bryan Station High School offers jazz, symphonic, concert and percussion ensembles

  • BSHS students have persevered through the pandemic with virtual and in-person instruction 

  • Michael Payne serves as BSHS’s band director

Bryan Station High School students are returning to in-person band instruction with safety precautions in place. Band members are thankful. 

Michael Payne’s jazz band student plays his trumpet during band practice at Bryan Station High School. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Evelyn Real was a freshman when her world flipped upside down and she had to adjust to playing her trombone virtually. Bryan Station High School students are now back to doing what they love and playing their instruments in-person with each other. A new study published in the ACS environmental publications says safety measures like limiting playing time to 30 minutes indoors, 60 minutes outdoors can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 down to 10%.

“Last year we had to have band masks, so it was a bit of a hassle putting it on and off. This year I would say, it’s kinda like second nature and you don’t really think about it,” said Real. 

Michael Payne plays his saxophone with jazz band students at Bryan Station High School. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Every time the horn goes down, the mask comes up. District spokesperson Lisa Deffendall explains bands are a huge part of Lexington schools and the last thing they want to do is limit those experiences. 

Michael Payne has directed BSHS students for the last two years of the pandemic. He teaches symphonic, concert, jazz and percussion ensemble. He knows patience is key.

“You’re going to gradually bring in some high hat, quarter notes and then I’ll cue the band,” said Payne.

Real says she’s glad to be back in person with her jazz band after struggling with online class.

“Our band director, Mr. Payne, he tried to put each of our parts together to make it sound like an actual piece, but it never did so I’m glad we’re back in person now and getting to make music,” said Real.

Payne can attest that BSHS students need band class in their lives.

“When we’ve had to step away from being able to have band like normal, or theater as normal or sports as normal, there absolutely is a missing piece for all these students. That’s again the best part about doing what we do for these students is we get to be that piece that fills in their high school career. So many of our students here especially identify with our band program,” said Payne.

Vykai Forrester is one of the many students who identify with the BSHS band program. He rocks out on his electric bass guitar.

“I really like connecting with people. I’m a pretty social person, so being able to be back with people and not just be stuck in my house all day feels great,” said Forrester.

The sophomore has been playing music since he was in seventh grade when he started on the bass for orchestra. His instrument doesn’t require him to take off his mask at all. 

“Mask on, mask off. It doesn’t really matter, I’m still playing the music and playing with other people. It’s nice,” said Forrester.

Fayette County Public Schools says they will try to keep extracurricular activities alive because they provide well-rounded opportunities for children in the district.