Lexington local group program perseveres during pandemic

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – CDC guidelines on January 6 recommended that all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities such as the band be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated.


What do you want to know

  • Bryan Station High School offers jazz, symphonic, concert, and percussion ensembles
  • BSHS students have persevered during the pandemic through virtual and in-person instruction
  • Michael Payne is the Group Director of BSHS

Students at Bryan Station High School are resuming in-person instruction with safety measures in place. The band members are grateful.

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

Evelyn Real was a freshman when her world flipped and she had to adjust to playing her trombone virtually. The students of Bryan Station High School are now back to doing what they love and playing their instruments in person with each other. A new study published in ACS Environmental Publications indicates that safety measures such as limiting play time to 30 minutes indoors, 60 minutes outdoors can reduce transmission of COVID-19 by up to at 10%.

“Last year we had to have group masks, so it was a bit complicated to put them on and take them off. This year I would say it’s kind of like second nature and you don’t really think about it,” Real said.

Michael Payne plays saxophone with students from the Bryan Station High School Jazz Band. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Each time the horn goes off, the mask rises. District spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall says bands are a big part of Lexington schools and the last thing they want to do is limit those experiences.

Michael Payne has led BSHS students over the past two years of the pandemic. He teaches symphonic, concert, jazz and percussion ensemble. He knows that patience is the key.

“You’re going to gradually bring in a top hat, quarter notes, and then I’ll give the cue to the group,” Payne said.

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

“Our group manager, Mr Payne, tried to put each of our parts together to make it look like a real play, but it never did, so I’m glad we’re back in person now and that we can make music,” says Réal.

Payne can attest that BSHS students need music lessons in their lives.

“When we had to move away from the possibility of having a band as usual, or theater as usual or sports as usual, there is absolutely a missing piece for all these students. That’s again the best part of what we do for these students is that we get to be that element that fulfills their high school careers. So many of our students here particularly identify with our music program,” Payne said.

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

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

The second has been playing music since he was in seventh grade when he started on orchestral bass. His instrument does not at all require him to remove his mask.

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

Fayette County Public Schools says they will try to keep extracurricular activities alive as they provide comprehensive opportunities for children in the district.

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