Notes from the Ladder: Your 2021 Drum Major

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