While many aspects of college have changed this year due to the unrelenting coronavirus, college marching bands throughout the Big Ten are finding ways to endure.
Each of the Big Ten bands have had their fair share of adversity this year, but each has managed to overcome these challenges in their own unique way, continuing to bring hope to their campuses during these turbulent times.
One such band is the University of Indiana’s Marching Hundred. While the Hundred have been unable to perform at football games due to Big Ten regulations, they have continued to rehearse in person with masks on while performing field shows virtually in an effort to remain involved in game day.
“Our band recorded our pre-game show, three halftime shows, and select stand tunes or cheers to be played during football games or for promotional material,” Cori Cox, senior tenor saxophone player for the University of Indiana, said.
While these changes allowed for some semblance of a normal band season, members of the Marching Hundred admit they miss many of the traditions a normal year of marching band would entail.
“I miss marching to the stadium on game days and playing all of our stand tunes. I also miss all the fun service events that TBS usually holds for the band, like cleaning brass instruments and hosting a haunted house in the Marching Hundred Hall,” Amane Brown-Sparks, senior mellophone player at Indiana, said.
Members of Ohio State University’s marching band have also had to undergo changes to their program this year.
The virus has led to a decrease in rehearsal time and members of OSU’s band have had to implement instrument bell covers to filter the air leaving the wind instruments.
“Only meeting in person 2 – 3 times a week instead of 5 (plus weekends). Meeting in instrument groups Monday – Thursday on an alternating schedule and all together on Fridays. Masks and bell covers required. All drill is at a 4-step spacing,” OSU sophomore snare drum player Thomas Agre said, listing some of the many changes to OSU’s marching band rehearsal this year.
Ohio State has also made their performances virtual this year, debuting pre-recorded field shows on the big screen at Ohio Stadium for Buckeye home games throughout the season. Their first performance, “Hindsight is 2020” is available to watch on YouTube.
Dan Rumpz, an OSU bass drum player said every rehearsal is an opportunity to escape the stresses of life outside band.
“We’re doing just fine. We’re seeing it as an opportunity to get away from life for a second and just appreciate that we’re still hanging out — at least that’s the perspective of many people in the drumline,” Rumpz said.
In Nebraska, members of the Cornhusker Marching Band say they are thankful for the time their directors have put towards making the limited season enjoyable.
“Our directors have done everything in their power to give us a great experience this year. I’m grateful for their love for their students,” Emily Donnel, a junior piccolo player at Nebraska, said.
As Donnel explains, the Cornhusker band has relocated their rehearsal setting in order to accommodate for appropriate spacing and has committed to only one field performance for the year.
“We have been practicing on the indoor field inside of our recreation center. We wear masks whenever we are not playing. Our show (there’s only one this year) is divided up so that only 1/3 of the band is on the field at once,” Donnel said.
In a normal marching band season, the weekly time commitment including game day can exceed ten hours, resulting in hundreds of hours being spent preparing for marching performances throughout a member’s marching career.
This results in some very close relationships within bands and a lot of fond memories being created throughout the course of each marching season.
Seniors around the Big Ten have had to come to terms with the fact that this season will be their last.
“I am grateful that we were able to even have a season, though it is sad that I didn’t get to march on the field in my uniform. I’m from Bloomington, so I’ve grown up knowing I wanted to be in the Marching Hundred,” Brown-Sparks said.
Though it may look a little different this year, marching bands throughout the Big Ten are continuing to practice, waiting for the day they can once again, take the field.