Eighty to 90 student musicians play at games, tour to 15 high schools in the region and rehearse more than four hours a week as members of the Sound of USD.
Three band students share how being a part of the marching band has impacted their college experiences.
Busy, but fun
Emily Gillespie, a sophomore business administration and trumpet section leader, said band is a big time commitment.
“We have four hours of rehearsal each week plus an hour-long sectional rehearsal,” Gillespie said. “Plus, we have game days and also have to practice on our own.”
Gillespie’s favorite part about band is performing on game days.
“They are busy days, but fun days,” she said.
As section leader for the trumpets, Gillespie leads nine other band members.
“I help the people in my section become better and try to fulfill the expectation of the band as a whole,” she said.
Gillespie said the hardest thing about band is having to miss class for performances and memorizing her music.
“We typically get one new song to memorize each week, but at the beginning of the season we had to memorize eight pieces,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie became interested in band because of her father, who played trumpet in high school.
“My dad always told me how much fun he had,” she said. “I really enjoy it because I have met a lot of my friends through band.”
Carrying their weight
Jeanna Brandsrud, a junior majoring in music education with an emphasis in vocal, plays the baritone.
“I was in marching band all through high school and really enjoyed it,” Brandsrud said. “I wanted it to carry over into college because I knew it was something I was passionate about.”
Brandsrud said it’s important that each member of the band carries their own weight.
“A lot of preparation is spending time learning your part so when we come together we can work on the emotion of the piece,” she said. “We work on coming together and playing as a whole instead of individual musicians.”
Brandsrud said members are held accountable by their fellow bandmates.
“When you don’t know your music, it’s pretty embarrassing,” she said. “It’s easy to tell if people don’t know their music, so it’s more of a pride thing.”
Band practices are an intense mental and physical workout for students, Brandsrud said.
“It’s a lot of upper body strength. My instrument weighs about 50 pounds and holding that up is the exhausting part,” she said.
The memorization process is different for each band member.
“I have been in choir and band for a while, so it takes me about 20 to 30 minutes to memorize music, but for people with less experience it might take a little longer,” she said.
Friendships, life lessons
Samuel Craig is a sophomore finance major who plays trombone. Craig has been playing since he was in sixth grade.
“All my older brothers were heavily involved in music, so I wanted to continue that tradition,” he said.
The hard work and pressure can sometimes take a toll on band members, Craig said.
“It gets a little stressful right before a performance if people don’t know their music or if we just learned the piece we are performing,” he said.
Despite the time commitment, the performers develop lasting friendships.
“My favorite part of band is all of the amazing friendships that I have created because of it,” Craig said.
Craig said marching band has equipped him with a set of life lessons.
“There is always somebody counting on you, even if you don’t know it, so you always have to put your best effort forward,” Craig said.