By Sarah Fielder
At 7:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning, most students are sleeping in or heading off to tailgates. The members of the University of Maryland marching band stretch stiff- and tired- limbs on the football practice field.
Before each game, the band goes to the practice field to run through their musical pieces. By 7:30 a.m. they begin to run through their show.
In the past, they did not need to be at the fields quite so early, but because the IFC tailgate now takes over the practice fields at 8 a.m., they have to run through their show while the space is theirs.
The Mighty Sound of Maryland, the marching band at this university, has 272 student members who practice four days a week in preparation for the pregame and half-time performances at the football games.
During shows, band members consult a det sheet, a piece of paper with directions on where they should walk on the field, that is attached to their music sheets, which gives them directions for where they should stand on the field during each portion of the song.
“It’s much harder to march and play,” said Alex Acuna, a sophomore letters and science major who plays alto saxophone. “You have full air when sitting, and when you march you get out of breath. You have to go backwards with 117 beats per minute and try to remember crescendos and everything else.”
“Practice is class time,” said Acuna. “I make my schedule around marching band. The only extra time I have is on Thursday.”
Members of band sign up for several classes where they practice marching and learn the music for each of their performances.
“Honestly, band makes me less stressed,” said Ellie Cromwell, a freshman architecture major who plays clarinet. “I’m [normally] antisocial, but then at band it’s like, look at all the friends I made.”
Within band there are a variety of sections, ranging from tubas to saxophones. Other groups include the drum line, for which students audition, and the color guard. Students in each of these sections are required to take extra classes.
“If we have a show coming up, we usually focus the hardest on learning the work for that show,” said Sydney Hancock, a sophomore hearing and speech sciences major who is a member of color guard.
“Once the drill for the field has been written, it is sent to our coach, who writes work, and then teaches it to us,” Hancock said.
All of this preparation goes into making the marching band the seamless machine spectators see on the field. From the Pokémon theme song to “Uptown Funk” to the beloved fight song, the band works hard to give students the best performance at every game.