It's announced during halftime at every home football game, “And now, please welcome...the pride of the Keystone State...The Moravian College Marching Band!” The Moravian Marching Band practices for hours every week and performs at football games and parades. As a member of the Moravian College Color Guard, I have the best time performing with this incredible band! I really enjoy working with Dr. Hess, the band director for the Marching Band, and Ciara Hurley and Miles Molerio, the Color Guard instructors. To showcase the hard work that's put into the marching band, I thought I would share my experience practicing our “Classic Rock” marching show for one week before our big performance at the Collegiate Marching Band Festival!
One week before Collegiate, the Moravian Color Guard meets up on South Campus for three hours to learn show work for the fifth, and final, song of our show. The Color Guard splits up into two sections: flags and weapons, which are the two pieces of equipment that we use in the show. I go with the weapon line, grab a wooden rifle, and warm up my hands with basic drop spins and tosses. Once we are warmed up, the weapon line goes off to learn the rifle work for the fifth song of our show! Miles Molerio, the student weapon line instructor, goes over the sets of counts that make up the song and we follow along with the motions. After we go through a complete set of counts, we rehears the same set a couple of times and add on to the work that we previously learned. After learning all of the routine for the fifth song, we make a video of the weapon line work to review during later practices.
Monday: A Break
No band practice today—just class for me.
Tuesday: More Practice
The Color Guard, along with the entire marching band, has Tuesday and Thursday practices that are typically from 4:00–6:00 p.m. During our Tuesday practice, there is a chance of rain, so the Color Guard is in Foy. At the start of practice, we spend most of our time reviewing and adjusting counts for the work we learned on Sunday. Once the flags and weapons finish cleaning and reviewing the work, we do a full run-through with the show music. After spending a good portion of our rehearsal reviewing the work, Ciara and Miles decide to have us practice the routines for the previous four songs. We go over each song in show order and once we're finished, they give us praise and criticism for certain areas of each song. After practice is finished, they go over details for Thursday’s practice and we're dismissed.
Wednesday: Heritage Day
On Wednesday, Moravian College celebrates Heritage Day. I arrive with the entire band at 7:50 a.m. outside of Johnston Hall to prepare for our performance. As students and staff arrive, we play songs from our field show and some popular stand tunes, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin',” Bon Jovi’s “Livin' on a Prayer,” “Hey Baby,” and “Land of A Thousand Dances” (a favorite of the MCMB). We perform until about 8:30 a.m. and then the band is dismissed to partake in Heritage Day. After the Heritage Day festivities, we perform with our flags and rifles outside of Johnston Hall at 1:45 p.m. Finally, the marching band concludes our performance with a few more stand tunes until the last of the students leave Johnston. Afterward, the marching band joins the Moravian College community for the annual Heritage Day picture.
Thursday: Practice Makes Perfect!
On Thursday, the entire marching band has practice on Betty Prince Field, the field commonly used for field hockey games. The Color Guard joins the band and we do a full run through of the first four songs of our show. We finish each song and Dr. Hess gives us feedback on strong and weak points of our performance. Afterwards, we run the entire fifth song so that the Color Guard can get used to the drill for the show. We apply our show work to the drill and work out how we're going to move around the band and where we'll be placed. After we understand our movements for the routine, we run through and refine the entire fifth song until the end of rehearsal.
Saturday: Football Game
The Color Guard and Marching Band begin practicing at Rocco Calvo Field at 10:00 a.m. for the football game. At the start, the entire band practices marching onto the field and does a run-through of the entire show. Once we're finished doing a full run through, we go over each individual song and focus on areas of difficulty. We're dismissed at 11:00 a.m. and are permitted to get food at the college, or wait for pizza provided by Dr. Hess.
We go into the stands and wait for kick-off. During the first quarter, the band plays some stand tunes and the Color Guard dances to each song. At the start of the second quarter, the Color Guard goes down to the track with our equipment and we begin running the show work for each individual song. Once the second quarter is over, we line up with the band and perform the first three songs of our show. We march off the field and have off for the third quarter. Finally, we make our way back up to the stands for the final quarter and the band plays more stand tunes to hype up the audience for Moravian’s win against Susquehanna.
Sunday: Collegiate Marching Band Festival
The big day has finally arrived: The Collegiate Marching Band Festival! This festival is very important to the MCMB because it allows us a chance to recruit upcoming college freshman for the band program. Some Color Guard members, including myself, choose to do our makeup and hair and change into our costumes in the HILL. After we're finished getting ready, we walk to the front of the HILL to load our equipment into the truck. Finally, we board the buses and are off to Collegiate!
We arrive at the J. Birney Crum stadium and unload the instruments and equipment from the truck. The Color Guard warms up with the band and we review the show work for each of the songs as the band plays behind us. Finally, Dr. Hess gives the entire band a pep-talk before our performance and we make our way to the stadium.
We arrive at the stadium for our performance at 1:00 pm and begin marching onto the field. The audience cheers as we come onto the field and the announcer states that our performance theme is “Classic Rock” and that we'll be performing songs from Ozzy Osbourne, Journey, Guns 'n' Roses, and Bon Jovi. We hear the audience cheer during the climactic moments of our performance and once we're done, we hear an immense applause as we march off the field. Once we load all of the equipment and instruments into the truck and change out of our uniforms, we're free to stay at the event until the end or leave early.
After our performance, I meet up with my parents and they express how much they loved the show. I also see two of my friends from my high school marching band and I make my way to where they're sitting. We give each other hugs and my friends say they loved our show and are amazed by our sound considering we're such a small band. We're able to catch up with each other as we watch all the other bands and we relive our memories from high school.
Marching Band provides me with tremendous opportunities and I have gained so many friendships through this activity. It was a big part of my high school career and I wanted to continue exploring my passion in college. I made so many friends from being part of this activity and it has not only taught me new Color Guard techniques, but also morals that I will remember for everyday life. Marching band is a great activity to get students out of their comfort zone and I encourage all students to join the marching band if they are interested!