Monthly archives "December 2021"

Notes from the Ladder: Your 2021 Drum Major

Alumni Relations

IMG_7159Hey Alumni!

My name is Oliver Matte, and I had the fortune of being your Big Red Marching Band 2021 Drum Major! I am a junior in the College of Engineering, and I study Computer Science. Conducting has been such a joy, I have loved being able to lead the band through such unique times.

The spring semester was quite a fun one! Though we had a slow start while we were still navigating how to handle the university’s COVID policies, we were able to get back to rehearsing towards the end of the semester. We were also able to host some of the more important activities for the Class of 2021 that were not able to happen last fall, these being Senior Concert and Non-Sectarian.

As we went into the summer, we were unsure what band would look like in the fall, but our optimism never faltered! We started to plan our trips for Yale, Harvard, and Penn during the upcoming semester, and we were in close contact with administration to ensure that these would be able to happen. Towards the end of the summer, the band was given the okay to travel to every location, provided we follow safety protocol. We took this opportunity and made some further adjustments to ensure that we could bring as many people as we could on these trips.

In coming back to campus, we had to make sure that our transition to in-person activities would once again be safe and fun for everyone involved. We made sure that we had proper protective equipment for everyone, and were able to host First Night outside! This meant that we could welcome all of the new members in the same way we usually do, which was fantastic. For the first few weeks, rehearsals and events were held outside to ensure proper COVID protocol and safety for all of our members.

A week before homecoming, however, COVID cases started to spike around campus. Luckily the band was largely unaffected, but for safety reasons we had to change much of our traditional homecoming activities. The administration wanted to make sure that we were safe, which unfortunately meant that our homecoming was not able to be held in the same way it usually is. Even though this news was disappointing to many, I am proud of the way we pushed forward and continued to adapt to make sure that we could continue doing what we loved.

After Homecoming we were planning to go on our bi-yearly trip to Yale. Unfortunately, under their protocol, they did not want any outside bands coming to visit, so we were unable to visit them. Instead, we decided to have the first ever band “field day” which ended up being a super fun time for everyone involved! Along with this, COVID cases started to reduce around campus, meaning that we could loosen some of the restrictions for our members.

The next big thing planned was our trip to Harvard. Everyone was extremely excited for our first trip of the year. The night before the trip however, we were informed of a scheduling error by the transportation company, meaning that we did not have buses for the trip. We tried to find any possible alternative, but unfortunately there were no achievable alternatives.

After this we had a series of home games. Though the football team did not win very often, the band was able to have a fun time and put some incredible shows on the field! As the year progressed, we still tried to keep our rehearsals outside as much as possible to aid with COVID safety. With the year getting colder, we did have to start doing more activities and rehearsals inside, so we restocked on protective equipment to be able to do these activities safely.

The next big thing that we had planned was the trip to Penn, and we made certain this trip would happen! Between talking with the bus company (multiple times) and talking with Penn to make sure we were allowed onto their campus, we knew this trip would happen, and that it would be a fantastic experience. And it was! The band was able to perform the first away show of the year. Although some scheduling mishaps on Penn’s side prevented us from performing our pregame show, we were still able to do halftime, and the show turned out incredibly well

As soon as that first trip was cancelled, we started getting into talks with athletics, bussing, and hotel companies to see if we could plan a trip to Dartmouth, a trip that has not been done for many years. Through weeks of effort, we were able to plan the trip, and the band had a fantastic time! This was our last away game of the season, and we were able to perform our whole show! Along with this, we were invited to play with the Dartmouth band in the 4th quarter, and both bands had an awesome time! This was definitely a highlight of the season for many of our members.

Finally, our year wound down with our last game, which led into our Senior Concert. Additionally, we were able to hold Non-Sectarian for all of our seniors (this happened to be very fortunate timing as the university shut down all campus activities due to a spike in cases the day after this event!)  It was so great that we were able to give the Class of 2022 the events they deserve this year.

This year has been unlike any other in BRMB history. It has had so many ups and downs, especially dealing with the pandemic, but when I look back on our season, one thing stands out to me. The band spirit is still alive, and it is stronger than ever. It shows how amazing this band is, and proves to me that we can overcome anything if we put our minds to it. Thank you for letting me be your Drum Major, and it has been an honor.

Oli “Carry the spirit with pride.” ver Ma “How lucky we are to have such a strong thing binding us together.” tte


Notes from the Office: Your 2021 Head Manager

Alumni Relations

IMG_0453Hey Alumni!

My name is Carey Lau, and I served as the 2021 Head Manager of the Big Red Marching Band! I’m a senior majoring in Biology & Society and minoring in Global Health in the School of Arts & Sciences. I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity to lead the band during this unique year!

Looking back on the spring semester, it’s amazing to see how far the band has come. Oliver & I planned a whole slew of virtual events, including Second Night, HM/DM Office Hours, game nights (Tetris is a band favorite!), and a series of music workshops, including sessions on how to read music and how to conduct for our new members. Later in the semester, we worked with our advisor Megan Ramey to create Covid policies for the band. Beginning in April, we were approved for outdoor, socially distanced rehearsals, capped at 30 students. We wore personal protective equipment, including specialized face masks designed for use with instruments, as well as bell covers or instrument bags. Later in the semester, we were approved for 60 students at rehearsals. We were even able to host a Senior Concert and Non-Sec for our Class of 2021 seniors, a few events they had missed out on during Fall 2020.

Over the summer, Oliver & I began to plan for the fall semester, although we were uncertain about whether or not the band would be allowed to hold in-person events and what restrictions we would have to follow. Ultimately, we were approved to have outdoor rehearsals with masks, bell covers, and bags. Later in the semester, as cases around campus decreased, we were approved to have outdoor rehearsals without masks, and indoor rehearsal with masks, covers, and bags. It was great to finally meet some of our new members in person!

Our first game of the year was a home game vs. VMI, and our Homecoming game! Although some Homecoming and alumni events on campus were cancelled at the last minute due to Covid cases, we were grateful for the opportunity to perform for the first time in nearly two years. We also marched in our new uniforms for the very first time! The new uniform process began in 2019 and was later put on hold because of the pandemic, so it was exciting for the band to finally wear them.

However, Homecoming wasn’t the only event impacted by the pandemic. We did not end up going to Yale, as they did not allow visitors. Our trip to Harvard was cancelled the day before, as the bus company was experiencing a shortage of bus drivers. Additionally, the Harvard hockey portion of the trip to Penn was cancelled, as Harvard’s visitor policy changed at the last minute. However, the band spirit persevered, and we were able to plan some other fun events! Oliver & I planned a Field Day in place of the Harvard trip, and we even planned the band’s first trip to Dartmouth in many years. On the way to Dartmouth, we stopped in Boston for the night and performed at Faneuil Hall, which ended up being one of the most memorable performances all year. The game at Dartmouth was a blast as well, and we were given a warm welcome by the Dartmouth band. This trip was definitely one of the highlights of the season, and we were happy to make so many new friends in the Dartmouth band!

We also continued to promote inclusion and diversity throughout 2021. At the beginning of the year, Bandstaph attended a diversity training for student leaders, as well as completed a training on how students can help others through mental health crises. We also hosted an instrument tutoring program at the beginning of the fall semester, which made learning a first (or second!) instrument more accessible for students in the band. We also provided free menstrual products in both bathrooms in the Fischell Band Center. We also provided gluten-free options at games, and Pudgies even special-ordered vegan cheese for the band, so our vegan bandies could enjoy pizza!

Prior to DM elections, our wonderful Philanthropy Coordinator & Diversity Chair Melissa Montejo ‘22 hosted a Pre-Election Forum, where band members were able to discuss which parts of elections they appreciated and which parts could be improved. Ultimately, we decided to make a few modifications to elections to help foster a more welcoming and positive environment. We created a set of community guidelines that were emphasized and followed throughout the election process, and used an online form to submit questions. Although elections were quite long, they remained respectful, and we hope that these changes will continue making the band a more welcoming place for everyone.

We finished up our season with our last home game, Senior Concert, and Nonsec. The day after Nonsec, all student activities were cancelled due to the rise in Covid cases, so we were extremely grateful we were able to host the event in person. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to our seniors, but we know we’ll see them back on the hill soon!

Although we experienced many disappointments throughout the year, the band’s spirit, sense of community, and love for making music together was so inspiring as we kept pushing forward. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to serve the band in a year unlike any other.

Thank you to Oliver & Cups for being amazing leaders of the band this year. I couldn’t have asked for a more positive and spirited pair of students to lead the band with during this uncertain year. And best of luck to Bella Burgess and Zack Kozma, our 2022 Head Manager and Drum Major, and the rest of the 2022 Bandstaph! I know they will accomplish amazing things and continue to make the band the most fun-loving and welcoming organization on Cornell’s campus.

Flove always,

Carey “wow, what a year it’s been!” Lau


2021 Section Updates!

Alumni Relations

As we have gotten back to marching, dancing, and playing together after our 17-month hiatus, each of our sections has been hard at work to make everyone’s band experience as enjoyable as possible. Our section leaders have put together short blurbs to update everyone on the state of the band from the bottom up:

image_6483441Guard: This has been a very special semester, as guard has been able to make a comeback from the COVID year and spin on the field once again! We performed 4 shows total with one of the themes being “The Precedented Circumstances Show” to celebrate our return to semi- normalcy. Though we were only able to go on two away trips total this year, we made history by traveling to Dartmouth College for the first time. We first stopped in Boston to deliver a dazzling performance at Faneuil Marketplace, then went to New Hampshire where we became friends with the lovely Dartmouth band. Despite having almost no members who had ever seen a full normal year of band, we did our best to remember and maintain some of our classic traditions such as a strong dedication to Mac and Cheese, delicious guard snack, and pineapples. This year we even brought in a new mascot, a stuffed pineapple cat named Catnapple, to accompany us on trips and be our emotional support animal. We’re looking forward to spinning in the spring and continuing to revive the original passion and traditions of the Big Red Color Guard!


IMG_0988Flutes: Mamma Mia, what a year! Despite COVID, the Flutes have continued to thrive. In February of 2020, the new tradition of a Valentine’s Day concert was born, called Flalentine’s. This past February, we continued the tradition with a virtual concert. We also held a virtual wedding with the Clarinets, sent each other letters, and had many a game night on Zoom. This fall, it was really exciting to be back in-person and welcome a lot of awesome new members to the section. We donned some snazzy masks, bagged our instruments, and got to step out in cool new uniforms. We continued our beloved traditions, like stealing the Tubas’ hats during Power, flute-upping, and boxers, and returned to Faneuil Hall to dance the Time Warp. We really missed having our alumni on the field with us this year, but are greatly looking forward to seeing you all next year! Flove <3


IMG_0910Clarinets: This fall, the Clarinets have had an amazing semester getting back on the field. We welcomed an absolutely incredible group of new members who have contributed greatly to the energy and enthusiasm of the section. We won the scavenger hunt yet again this year maintaining our winning streak. Many of our old traditions continued this year even after last year’s hiatus and shattered many pelvises during Everybody’s Everything. We continued some new traditions this year as well including Taylor Swift night and chill game nights. As we wrap up the semester, we are about to hold our annual gift exchange and send off our beloved seniors with a toast. We hope to see you all soon, and hope you can join us parading and during halftime at homecoming next fall.


IMG_4590SaxesThe saxes are a quirky bunch of people new and old who have really come together this semester to create a tightnight community full of friendship, inside jokes, and memorable traditions.  From sax pyramids between sets to drinking minty cocoa on cold nights, rehearsals have been a blast and full of all the chaos and fun that is indicative of sax culture.  Outside of rehearsals, we’ve spent our time together watching the Bachelorette, having “productive” nights during work Wednesdays (who said board games aren’t productive?), and some great food at our seasonal potlucks.  Through this all, we’ve really come together as a group, and we are so happy to have had so many amazing new members from all grades who have really added so much to our section.  It is amazing seeing our crazy family grow with people with all sorts of interests and talents, all of whom have really left their mark on the sax section.  Having gotten to come back to the band after a year of uncertainty, we are so happy to see the sax section thrive, and we know that we are watching friendships form that will last for years to come!


IMG_3282Horns: After an all-around rough 2020, the horns are making a great comeback! Although instrument covers make it hard to prank each other with chicken wings, we’ve loved playing in-person at all the football games this season. We held our annual practice once again, and have continued our love for Waluigi (to a sometimes unhealthy level). We loved meeting up again with many of our alumni at Penn and Dartmouth, and can’t wait to (hopefully) welcome everyone back next fall for homecoming!


IMG_7642TrumpetsThere was a lot of uncertainty coming into this semester, but with a fleet of amazing new members, the trumpets have remained the most powerful section in the band. It’s been a little funky getting back to in-person events. Scheduling concerns, instrument mask shortages, and just your general band-related chaos (i.e., Cups ‘22) kept us on our toes. Trumpet attendance has been through the roof at pretty much every event and we’ve been sounding amazing! A few new songs have been added to trumpet cheers, with a number of arrangements from Pony ‘20 and Eric ‘22. We continued the Over the Garden Wall tradition this year with a full Thanksgiving meal organized by Iceman ‘23, and we just celebrated Trumpet Christmas with a taco bar. It’s been an amazing season and we couldn’t be happier or prouder with how the section has evolved and persisted through this wild time, and we can’t wait to see what happens next!


image1DrumlineDrumline has been absolutely boolin’ this semester. There was the excitement of having our first in-person season since COVID. While it was definitely a challenge, we spent the spring semester building our chops with Cadence “Weekly Bars” to encourage members, new and old, to learn each section of the Parade Cadence. This definitely helped when we got back to marching in September. It made us happy to see members who joined their freshman year have their first ever marching season this fall as sophomores. We also had the privilege of welcoming new freshman, sophomores, and masters students to the Drumline during auditions in August, and they are just as talented and as quirky as you’d expect. They are super active and some of them were even recently elected to Bandstaph! We made a lot of great memories this year: from go-karting, to apple picking at Indian Creek Farm, to cheating at a corn maze at Stoughton Farm. With our first in-person season since 2019, we also had a first-time away trip to Dartmouth! We had a great time playing with the Dartmouth marching band and getting told not to say “Dartmouth sucks” in record time. We stopped at Boston on our way to Dartmouth (don’t think about it too much) and got to parade at Faneuil Hall. Even though they didn’t have t-shirts at UPenn and we got yelled at by their band director yet again, that was such a fun trip since we got to see some alums! We really wanted to focus on fostering an inclusive community and giving our new members the freshman fall that we had, and we are so excited to have accomplished that!


IMG_1290BonesDa Bones have been chugging merrily along in most ossiferous comportment this year. We picked up a number of jolly frosh to bolster our RanKS, with so many tones that we had to even use Academic/Integrity every now and then (yeahhh tonarchy!!!). We went on our first away trips in 2 years to Penn and Dartmouth and attempted to sell many a duck and gravy boat on the Happy Bus. We’ve also added a few new bone cheers to the repertoire, including a reworking of Underbones. Whether making and playing Jeopardy boards, collaging, watching Evangelion, or getting up to our trademark cantankerous silliness at rehearsals or game days, da Bones have had a rather hearty return to marching. Can’t wait to continue that spirit with pep next semester, and we look forward to seeing y’all next year for Grand Bonecoming!!!


Tubas: The Tubae have declined to comment. They are too busy with confidential business, evidently.IMG_4443