By Izzy Wheeler / Staff writer

Hutchinson Community College’s jazz group, Badinage, is a huge hit on campus.

This group consists of 11 members, six women and five men. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the students are required to abide by the rules set by the college when it comes to being in a vocal group, which is that all members must remain six feet apart and they must wear masks at all times.

The group still gets to use microphones, but compared to last year, it is much harder to connect with the rest of the group because everyone is so isolated from the others in the group. They are also performing fewer songs due to the fact they could not practice over the summer. 

Badinage member Ryan Roderick, a Mulvane sophomore, was asked if wearing a mask has been a big issue for him or the group.

“Yes, depending on the mask, it can be hard to get the quality of tone that we are trying to produce when it comes to vocal jazz singing,” Roderick said. “The tone that we strive for is much brighter than many other forms of music so when we have to use a mask, it makes the tone much lugubrious/warmer, which is the opposite of what we want. I have also heard some kids struggle with breathing through cloth masks when they try to sing as well.”

Badinage members haven’t had to quarantine so far. They have to be careful with COVID-19, not only for others’ health, but it affects their instruments as well.

They do not have time to be out for two weeks, so they have to be as safe as they can. 

For Badinage, practice time is important.

“The entire time I have been there, we have yet to have a practice cancelled just because our director, Neal Allsup, was gone,” Roderick said. “The music is so very challenging, so we have to use the time we have very wisely. From 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m., we are going through pieces and expanding our musicianship through Neal’s teaching and guidance. If we aren’t singing the music, we are either listening to his tips or listening to his stories that he has to tell. It is a very hardworking atmosphere, but we also can have a few laughs and stories at the same time when we need a break from the music for a second. Warmup wise, we don’t do many warmups because many of us will actually practice right before the actual class. Usually when we get there we will just slide right into the music.”

There are no additional classes Badinage students have to take except the Badinage class from 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The group has students from many majors. In fact, only three people in the group are music majors. To be in this group, prospects have to audition over several weeks at Stringer Fine Arts Building, on Tuesdays from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.. Over the course of the summer, Allsup will form the group of who he thinks would be the best combination. This will involve singing the songs the group is going to perform that year, and Allsup looks for leaders, musicians and people who are willing to learn quickly under pressure.

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