If I were to choose two words to sum up the past year, it would be these: pleasantly exhausting. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and my love for the only REAL marching band in the Ivy League and each of its members has only grown stronger with every game. Working with Michaela has been an absolute delight, and I could not have imagined running this Band with anyone else by my side. Being Head Manager has not only been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, but it has also been one of the most thrilling and educational adventures I could ever imagine. As a Human Development major I study human behavior and individuality, but my studies pale in comparison to what this job has taught me about the human experience as both a leader and a friend.
After finishing up the Sesquicentennial celebrations in the spring, we once again played a part in making history at Cornell as we performed for the inauguration of Elizabeth Garrett, Cornell’s first female president. We were all thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to such a significant moment in the story of Cornell, and after having the new president speak at First Night a few weeks earlier, the entire event was even more meaningful to us.The very next day we had a successful Homecoming, then hit the ground running and took on a whopping five trips during this fall season! Three of these were our typical football trips to Yale, Princeton, and Penn; during which the Band put on phenomenal performances that put the other bands to shame.
Outside of our typical season, we also had the incredible opportunity to travel Montreal to perform for the Alouettes, and the entire Band had an amazing time performing in front of such a large crowd (even with my constant reminders about passports). But the fun didn’t stop there! After a surprise call at the end of August, I was able to book the Big Red Marching Band as the halftime entertainment at a Buffalo Bills game! The 4:00 am report time before the game was a bit daunting, but everyone made due and a group of freshmen had the adorable idea to sleep over in the band room—chaperoned by me and Michaela of course—to avoid an early hike from North Campus. A few hours later and after nearly a decade without an NFL performance, the Band had the chance to perform in front of over 70,000 fans in one of the most energetic stadiums in the country. While putting two pro- game trips together was no easy task, the looks of awe on everyone’s faces and Michaela’s borderline manic grin as the crowd cheered them on made the constant emails and stresses of working with professional football teams incredibly worthwhile.
This year I put a strong focus on giving more responsibility to the Bandstaph by holding a retreat that focused on leadership skills as well as trust and courage (as demonstrated on a high ropes course). We also met to review the Band’s Constitution to ensure that it remains current and pertinent to the organization. I also achieved a personal victory when I put into a place a plan that will replace our 26-year-old raincoats and provide the Band with an entirely new set within the next two years.
While my time as Head Manager of this amazing organization draws to a close, I have been thinking back on what drew me to this Band in the first place; the sense of family and community that (in my own opinion) is unmatched. Because of this, I know that stepping down and returning to the flute will only strengthen my love for this group, and that the piece of my heart that this group has claimed will never fade.
-Emily Isenstein ’16