Skyhawk Marching Band: Held to high standards on and off field
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 15:09
With books to read, papers to write and homework to do, college can be unforgiving.
Band members not only have to navigate the usual obstacles of college life, but also have to adjust to band life.
Matthew Stratton, Tuba and Euphonium professor, is currently serving his first full year as Director of Athletic Bands, which includes the UTM Skyhawk Marching Band and the Basketball band.
That’s not the only change the music department is facing. Also, John Oelrich will be starting as Director of Bands, a new title making him in charge of the Wind Ensemble and Concert Band.
Together, Stratton and Oelrich are using a new strategy to continue our school’s musical legacy. They intend to instruct two different bands at the same time and many students will be in both of those bands.
The school year started a week earlier for band members than for other students. They had to be on campus for band camp, where the band practices drill and music for their halftime performance.
Each day, band camp typically lasted from 8:30 a.m. to about 8 p.m. with an hour lunch and dinner break.
Band camp is now over and classes have begun. Yet, that doesn’t mean the band stops practicing. Members go to class like other normal students, but they also go to marching band practice on Mondays and Tuesdays from 4 p.m.–5:30 p.m. and Thursdays 6 p.m.-8 p.m. They work hard so they can perform at every home football game, which many times interferes with any plans to go home on the weekends.
“The schedule is a very busy one. It’s hectic but it can be done,” said marching band member Daniel Guill. “It’s a lot of fun.”
It can be even more hectic for those majoring in music. They are required to practice playing their musical instruments individually for at least ten hours each week.
The life of any band member is busy. It’s especially complicated for students in the Marching Band who are also in Wind Ensemble.
The Wind Ensemble is scheduled to rehearse on Wednesdays 4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. this September, while still going to marching band practice with the rest of the band on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. All the while each one will be fighting to keep up their GPA.
That might seem like too much commitment to students whose classes stress them out. It’s an honor to be in the Wind Ensemble though, and the members enjoy it. Oelrich described them as “the finest wind, brass, and percussion musicians on campus.”
They auditioned to prove they were good enough to be part of the group. They will be attending class and doing all the duties of a college student while learning music for their concerts, in addition to practicing and working on their halftime show.
They do so because they love music, and they want to play more challenging, more symphonic music than the tunes they perform at football games.
Further complicating things, their schedule changes again this October when the marching band will meet less often, rehearsing only Thursdays 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The members of the Concert Band may see this as a welcome break. Wind Ensemble members though, will certainly not.
The Wind Ensemble will rehearse on Mondays and Tuesdays 4 p.m.–5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays 4:15 p.m.–5 p.m.
They will still attend the Friday marching band rehearsals and every performance.
They won’t be receiving special treatment. Nothing but their best effort in the classroom or in band will be accepted.
“Students will be responsible for maintaining a high level of performance on the field for Marching Band while preparing challenging wind band literature for Wind Ensemble,” said Oelrich.
“I like Dr. Oelrich and Professor Stratton. I’m excited to see what happens this year,” said Rachel Pittman, a member of the Wind Ensemble and Marching Band.