I recently told my old band teachers from high school, “Plot twist! I’m doing band in college.” My old high school didn’t have a marching band. They made the concert band pretend to be a pep band, and we begrudgingly played at games the football team didn’t want us at. When I graduated, I had decided that was all, band is over. So when one of my friends told me that he had gone to the first day of auditions and that I totally should too, my response was a firm heck no. But the promise of two hundred free friends ended up being too enticing for a freshman, and I found myself following chalkings to the band room. There I played bananagrams with a bunch of strangers, and got my first taste of what the BRMB was like: fun times, cool people, and lots of inside jokes. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go to First Night or not, but my roommate convinced me that I might as well try it out. I’d only been playing the tone for a year and a half, and I had trouble with most of the songs we played.
Between me asking “wait what did she say?” five times between every set, and me screwing up anything other than a whole note, I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for marching band. But after singing songs at the Nines and seeing everyone come together for the Alma Mater (I still don’t know any of the words), my opinion began to change. And after going to Bone House to hear stories from all the upperclassmen and meet the people in my section, I had decided that band was one of the best decisions I could have made. Sure, I struggled to learn to march, and then to march while playing. But now I don’t even think twice about dropping the word “bone” in front of phrases, and I can at least play all of the quarter notes in songs. I get to trick people into thinking that I’m an avid sports fan because I talk about the football games and the hockey games. I get to tell stories about the unique things I’ve done, like marching at an NFL game or meeting alumni at bonecoming (and then explaining what bonecoming is). But mostly, I get to brag about all my friends from band and how they’re some of the nicest and most interesting people on campus. – Jessi Hersh ’19
I never did band in high school – I had a short stint of playing the oboe back in seventh and eighth grade, but really, I let the super good guy next to me carry the both of us. I wouldn’t even describe myself as musical. I surprised myself when I joined the Big Red Marching Band, convinced by my sophomore pre-orientation guide, and I doubted that I’d stay past First Night. But a senior sax told me, “Just try it for the first month or two. It’ll be great!,”and I thought “Why not? I have nothing to lose.”
Little did I know back then, that a “month or two” was the entire marching band season. I can’t imagine my life here at Cornell without band anymore. My love wavers ever so slightly during cold rehearsals/Saturdays, but sax tag is quick to warm me up. Band is a family. I’ve never met a person in band that isn’t super friendly and into having a good time. It’s awesome going to rehearsals after a long day, to blow off steam, marching, and run around with a hundred awesome people.
I will eternally be grateful for the kind of organization that the Big Red Marching Band is, one that doesn’t take itself seriously, and has extra instruments and people that will make extra time you teach it to you. The kind that stuffs you with baked goods and takes care of you. The kind that does awesome shows in places I couldn’t have imagined going. Band established their presence from day one of O-Week, but I don’t think enough people here at Cornell know just how serious we are when we say that we’ll take anyone into our family. I was just one of the lucky ones that got to find out.
-Yeolim Jo ’19
How many chalk drawings are there!? Plastered throughout North and Central campus, urging passerby to be ‘boned and get saxy, the hundreds of messages had one message: JOIN BAND! After finally talking to some bandies holding instruments and signs, I finally realized this was too much fun to pass up. I still tell people today, if you need friends, just join band for a month, no music experience necessary. Yet, when I think about to how wild my first weeks were at band, sometimes I’m surprised I stuck with the band. I had never marched before, drill sheets looked like a foreign language, I could barely play any of the music that the whole section could belt out perfectly. But none of that mattered. Band is more than just gym credit and playing Davy a few thousand times: it truly is a home, a home for me. I mean that emphatically; seeing the seniors crying during the Senior Concert was emotional for the whole band. I already feel so close with the Bones after a few months, what about after a few years under the same roof?
And what an enthralling few months so far with the Big Red Marching Band. First Night brought the silly nonsense known as aardvarking, whirlwind horn moves for Pinball Wizard, and pizza delivered via dumbwaiter. Shows were new and exciting, and even though I continually forgot which way is right and left, circling Luigi for his epic Lord of the Rings trumpet solo is one of coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. Going on the road from Montreal to Buffalo Bills Stadium is probably what made me fall the hardest for the band: playing the grossest, funniest Mad Lib games possible, stuffing as many people as possible into one poor coach bus bathroom, and discovering how much I take Pudgie’s pizza for granted (seriously, Canada, it’s just bread,sauce, and cheese how could it go so wrong?). Tuba Halloween made charity fun and possibly painful for the poor tuba players who serenaded us with some Meghan Trainor while being pelted with change.
Yet, perhaps the finest moment I’ve had in band was just yesterday, at the last home game of the year in the Empire Bowl. For bones, that only means one thing: Hawaii Five-O day. Tropical bathing suit and Hawaiian shirt under my uniform, I was ready to sprint in 40 degree overcast weather. I just didn’t know we would do so barefoot, and it’s probably a good thing I couldn’t feel my feet after a half-minute. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly that this was the game I invited my parents to. I just remember as we all took off around the track, thinking how absolutely insane and crazy and perfect this was. And I feel that every time I turn on my band playlist and throw on some Everybody’s Everything or JCS: my pride to be part of something as unique and zany and downright fun as the Big Red Marching Band. My freshman college experience has been overwhelmingly positive because of Band. I know in the ensuing years, I will continue to make countless memories with my section and the band as a whole. Maybe I’lleven finally learn the words to Davy other than the BALLS BALLS BALLS BALLS part.
- Matt Barker ’19