Back to Banding: Smiles (and tears) of joy as Johnstone meet up again

Thursday 17 June 2021

Musical director Mark Good couldn’t contain himself at Johnstone Band’s first rehearsal since March 2020. It was a selfie which painted a thousand words!

The band had had just one rehearsal after the Scottish Championships prior to the introduction of the first lockdown.

Members met for an hour in the grounds of the band hall in Johnstone after a dedicated taskforce worked extremely hard in the build-up. On the day, the team did everything possible to ensure the necessary safety measures and guidelines were in place: preparing risk assessments, asking members to bring their own stands and music, checking in on arrival and carefully arranging seating layouts.

From the very first hymn tune, there were smiles – and some tears – of joy from the players who were finally reunited after 15 challenging months.

“While Johnstone has remained busy online – from Zoom rehearsals to distance banding videos and guest talks – nothing comes close to that feeling of playing together,” said Mark.

Aware that not everyone might be in a position to return to in-person activities just yet, the band intends to continue in a hybrid format for the next few weeks with a mixture of ‘live’ and online sessions.

As musical director of both Johnstone and Riverside Youth bands, seeing both organisations resume playing together has been a heartwarming experience for Mark.

“The challenges brought about by the pandemic have been unparalleled and bands that did whatever they could to engage with their members during the lockdowns deserve tremendous credit,” he added.

“No-one started playing a musical instrument in the hope of one day playing on Zoom, but those activities served a purpose. Making music in person with friends, however, has been the perfect tonic for the soul. Long may it continue!”

If you would like your band to be featured in our Back to Banding series, please send a photo and a short write-up telling us about where you have chosen to play and how your members feel about being back together again to


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