February 27, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 pm by brennachristine

 

I’m sure I caught your attention with my last post about the thrill of game days. I must now admit, there’s more to BUGWB than that. All 250 members show up every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3-5 p.m. to practice so game days can be fun and exciting, rather than stressful. Here’s a look at the day-to-day grind of Baylor band members.

Set Up

Members of Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi, the band service sorority and fraternity, arrive thirty minutes prior to practice to make sure everything is ready to go. Their regular duties include

  • Spray painting the “field”
  • Filling water coolers
  • Setting up ladders
  • Readying sound equipment.

Stretches

Before we officially begin practice, the entire band takes time to stretch. This is a silly time that allows everyone to catch up with friends before we have to really get down to business. The drum majors lead the stretching time. Each year, they put their own twist on the stretching routine, adding funny names and new ways to stretch.

Concert Arcs

Next, the band assembles into what we call, “concert arcs.” This is a large semi-circle that allows the best possible sound to project towards our director. It is here that we warm up and rehearse music.

Drill

This is definitely the most intricate part of practice. Each day is different, so I’ll take you through the step-by-step process of learning a marching band drill. Before reading on, take the time to think about how big a challenge that really is. Have you ever had to give 250 people different instructions and then get them to take that individual instruction and turn it into a unified production? Trust me, it’s a precise art.

  • Step 1: Section and squad leaders pass out coordinate sheets. Each person has a letter and number that correspond to their section and person respectively. For example, for most shows I was T-15 (Trumpet, member number 15). The coordinate sheet has set numbers with a description of where you are located on the field beside each set. It seems very complicated, but reading drill becomes like reading a book once you get the hang of it.

 

Here’s a picture of an actual BUGWB coordinate sheet.

  • Step 2: Without instruments, the entire band runs through the drill set by set. Members must not only memorize where their “spots” are, but they must also know what path to take to get there, how big of steps to take, which direction their body is facing and which direction their instrument is facing.
  • Step 3: Everyone grabs their instruments and runs through the drill again. Obviously, step 2 is a bit harder when you are hauling around a tuba or bass drum.
  • Step 4: By this time, everyone should be proficient enough with the music to be able to play and march at the same time. This is sometimes difficult when the tempo is fast or there is a difficult rhythm. Sometimes I feel as if I’m trying to rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time.
  • Step 5: The final step involves polishing drill and memorizing music so everything looks perfect for game day.

Announcements

“Bring it in!” is the cue for everyone to rush toward the front of the field for the director’s closing remarks. This is also a time for announcements to be made. These include informing members about band functions, rush events or other general business. On Fridays, we sing the Baylor Line to conclude the week on a positive, Baylor-focused note- literally.

Spirit Fridays

The GWB marches rain or shine, in scorching heat and freezing cold. Every once in a while, when it is dangerous to be outside, we will pack into Jones Concert Hall. We are so big however, that the brass and drum line stands on stage and the woodwinds sit in the audience. It isn’t an ideal situation, but we make due. If there are any Baylor Alumni reading this, please feel free to make a donation so a band hall can be built!

It isn’t always easy to come to practice, especially on Fridays when most students have already begun to bring in the weekend. In order to make Friday rehearsals more fun, BUGWB has something called “Sprit Fridays.” This is my favorite part of band! Essentially what happens is the spirit chair picks a theme and announces it to the band throughout the week. Then, on Friday, everyone comes to practice in full costume according to the week’s theme. Some of the past themes include:

  • Duct Tape
  • Western
  • Disney
  • Heroes and Villains
  • Twin
  • Nerd
  • Tie-Dye

Below are some pictures of members showing their BUGWB spirit. Hopefully you can get as much enjoyment out of them as I do!

“Figgy” on duct tape day

A group of trumpet players on twin day

Katie Hart as The Hulk on superhero day

Jeanne Knepper and me loosely interpreting superhero day

…we went as “America”

Erin Seifert, me, Jeanne and Brittany Hanley on nerd day

Me, Katie and Jeanne on neon day

Leave a Comment!

Which costumes/themes were YOUR favorites?

Does your organization have any fun traditions to help make the daily grind more enjoyable?

February 22, 2012

Football Season: Game Days

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:44 pm by brennachristine

 

And so it begins…

Members of the band arrive to Floyd Casey Stadium four to five hours before kickoff. Members of Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi arrive an hour before the rest of the band in order to fill water coolers, set up ladders and do anything else necessary for the day to run smoothly. Games beginning at six or seven are easy. Games beginning at noon or before are very tough. I have personally been at Floyd Casey before the sun came up more times that I would like.

Setting up in the dark….

….and in the rain

Once the rest of the band arrives, we all head out onto the field so we can run the show a few times on the field. It isn’t always an easy transition from practicing on dead grass with (sometimes) faded yard lines, to turf. We usually don’t play our instruments very much during this time due the the fact that we have hours and hours of playing in our near future.

Time to eat

We have a meal catered for the entire band on game days. It is usually something like sandwiches from Jason’s Deli or Chick-fil-a. Every once in a while, we get something more elaborate such as barbeque from Rudy’s. We all pile onto the old practice field (near the tailgate area) and have a time of fun and fellowship with our sections.

Trumpet player, Ryan Allison having a little too much fun.

Prep Time

After the meal, members make their way to the BUGWB Uniform Room. New this year, Baylor Athletics converted a former locker room into a room where we can house our uniforms. Previously, each person had to transport their uniform to and from games and store them in their individual places of residence. This was a bit of a hassle, especially for those who lived in dorms. Thank you Athletics!

It is also during this time that some of the sections take part in special pre-game traditions. I will describe the one I’m most familiar with: the trumpet tradition of spirit juice. About a decade ago two trumpet brothers began the tradtion of spirit juice. The “juice” used to be made of ingredients such as mouthwash, so as to cleanse us before going to play. Over time the juice has become more and more disgusting. I have tasted everything from pickle juice to Buffalo Wild Wing’s Blazin’ Sauce in my time as a trumpet. Fortunately, we don’t swallow the juice. We pass the bottle around, each taking a swig, and then spit it out together at the end. Here’s a video of one of the “nicer” spirit juice experiences:

Jeanne Knepper “enjoying” Spirit Juice

Once everyone is dressed and ready, we head over to the tailgate area for our pre-game tailgate show. We play a few songs so fans can experience us up close.

Pregame

We then enter the ramps on either side of the scoreboard. We hang out here, getting pumped up, until the weather man, Andy Anderson gives the forecast and then announces us. We know when he is about to come on the screen and always chant, “The weather, the weather, we want the weather report!”

A whistle blows and we charge out onto the field ready to make our famous Bruin Pride entrance. Our pregame show is the same every week. It consists of a few fight songs, the Star Spangled Banner, Texas Our Texas and That Good Ole’ Baylor Line. After our pregame show concludes, we file into the stands as quickly as possible, ready to bring our team onto the field.

Game Time

During the game we do our part, playing appropriate tunes for what’s going on in the game. We try our best to play “loud and proud” so the crowd and team will be motivated. If you’ve ever attended a Baylor football game, you have probably seen the huge penalty flag the band has. This is just one of the fun traditions BUGWB has to make games the best they can be.

One of my favorite traditions is chugging a Red Bull energy drink with the trumpet section at the start of the third quarter. It is our way of being the most energetic section at all times.

Liz Horton showing off her third quarter pick-me-up

Halftime is Gametime

I would be remiss if I left out halftime details. Believe it or not, this is the time that has the least amount of “secrets.” We are always prepared and essentially, get on the field, perform a great show, and get off. It can certainly be a very nerve racking experience. I vividly remember my first halftime performance three years ago. I was so nervous, I barely played a note. The thought of messing up in front of thousands of people was definitely in the forefront of my mind at the time. However, the nerves wear off quickly and halftime becomes a fun, exciting time to showcase your talent in front of Baylor Nation.

We have had some memorable halftime shows. Some include Lady GaGa, Thriller and Bohemian Rhapsody. This year, we tackled the largest project ever attempted by BUGWB: a flash mob. Weeks of preperation went into this show, and I must say, it was a success. I’ll let this fan video speak for itself:

Post Game

As every other fan is filing out of the stands, members of BUGWB know they still have a job to do. We always play the Baylor Line for the team, win or lose. After that, we play a song called Tennessee Waltz. It is a song played years ago for halftime, that was loved so much, fans begged BUGWB to bring it back. Consequently, we play it at the end of every game. It holds a special place in my heart, because there is a trumpet solo in it, that is played by senior members. Finally, we come together forming a big BUGWB blob, and sing the last few words of the school song to close the night: “And guide us as we onward go, that Good Ole’ Baylor Line!”

We are then dismissed to go put away uniforms and bring band equipment to the truck so it can be transported and unloaded at Edge Field. I generally get home an hour and a half after the game concludes.

As tiring as it is to be busy from dawn ’till dusk almost every Saturday during the fall, I love every minute of it and am glad I will be able to have these memories as I “march forever down the years.”

February 13, 2012

Summer Marching Band

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:34 pm by brennachristine

 

Introduction

This is a blog that takes a look behind the scenes of the Baylor University Golden Wave Marching Band and Courtside Players. I’m a member of these organizations and have been heavily involved since my freshman year at Baylor. I’m a trumpet player, squad leader and member of the band service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma. I’m not an expert on many things, but I do know quite a bit about band. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to reveal what it’s like to be a part of a college band. I’ll start with events that transpire over the summer, follow up with a few posts about football season and conclude with a look into the world of Baylor Basketball.

Leadership Retreat

Before all 250 members of the band arrive in August, section leaders, squad leaders, drum majors, staff and directors must get on the same page. This is achieved at a weekend called Leadership Retreat. Every year, GWB “Leadership” travel to a campground and partake in team building activities, teaching seminars, GWB development discussions as well as other events that focus on betterment of the band. This year was particularly fun, because attendees were able to participate in a ropes course. Below is a video of me taking on “the leap of faith.”

Here are a few more pictures from the rope course. It was a weekend to remember!

Here I am taking a ride on the “screamer.”

Our director, Dr. Odajima didn’t miss out on the fun.

Erin Seifert and Brittany Hanley were styling in their safety harnesses.

New Uniforms

This year, the GWB debuted new uniforms. Many people don’t realize how much work must be done in order for 300 uniforms to make it out of their boxes, and into the hands of college students. Members of the band service fraternity and sorority, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, spent countless hours over the summer inventorying the old uniforms, unpacking the new uniforms and creating an organized system with which to distribute the new jackets, pants, shirts, shoes, hats, spats, gloves, water bottles and backpacks to members. Talk about a lot of work! You can read more about this experience on the Tau Beta Sigma blog. Below are a few pictures that sum up this huge endeavor.

Our new uniform!

Just a snapshot of the many hatboxes we sorted.

Uniforms ready to be unpacked

Band Week

Finally, after months of preparation, the GWB greets its members. Many are GWB veterans, but about half are freshman who move in a few days before other Baylor students in order to have time to practice before classes start. Band week is exactly what it sounds like. GWB members eat, sleep and breathe band the week prior to the first day of school. While this sounds terrible at first, a second glance reveals the truth behind the sweat.

Each section becomes incredibly close over this week. Additionally, there are many traditions, which make the August heat bearable. Below are a few of my favorites:

  • Trumpet shirts – The trumpet section gives the freshmen in their section hot pink shirts with funny names on the back, which must be worn (without washing) for the entire week. On the last day of band, the entire trumpet section wears the pink shirt they were given as freshmen.

  • Section unity night – Each section has secret traditions, which are revealed to the freshman on this night. This is when the freshman are “initiated” and truly become a part of their section. For the trumpet section, this is the night where freshman are given their pink shirts and learn about the sacred Trumpet Superman Flag.

  • Rock the pool – Upper classmen pick a day, and when cued, almost the entire band sprints to a nearby apartment complex pool, jumps in, and immediately runs back to practice. Marching wet is a little gross, but is also a great way to beat the heat.
  • Bowling – The GWB rents out an entire bowling alley and the band comes together for a night of bowling and fun. This is the first time the entire band comes together for a reason other than practice.

Summer band is almost unbearably hot; however, the relationships made are worth any suffering endured. Freshman band members begin classes with a tight knit family already in place. How many freshman get an opportunity like that?

If you have any band stories, pictures or videos, feel free to comment and/or leave the name of your site so myself and others can check out YOUR experiences!

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