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Memoirs of a Band Geek

on October 24, 2011

As many of you know, Lane and I both marched in the University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band.  We met in marching band, fell in love, and got married.  We had never gone back to march in the Alumni Marching Band at Homecoming until this past weekend. 

For any of you who follow college athletics and have been to games/events, you know that the atmosphere is exciting.  At Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, the atmosphere is not only exciting, it’s electric.  It has been stated by many, many sportscasters that the atmosphere in Kinnick Stadium is one of the most exciting and electric in all of college sports.  I know that I am biased, but they are not Hawkeye fans!   My point is, that as soon as we arrived downtown Iowa City Friday afternoon, you could feel the excitement and electicity in the air.

We walked around downtown, went to a sports bar and had an appetizer and a beer before parade check-in.  Once we checked in, we put our horns together, started to warm up as everybody else was getting there doing the same thing.  It was very fun to hear the percussion warming up on the familiar cadence.  It was soon time to line up…I was put on the outside of the saxophone line which meant that I would be able to see the crowd, and they would be able to see me! 

The parade stared and we were at the very beginning, right after the firetrucks. We alternated playing between two songs, with a shortened drum cadence in between.  We “high step march”, which means lifting your legs to a 90 degree chair level height with every step.  And add playing to that….for a couple of miles.  Yes…it’s tiring!  The crowd was cheering, waving, smiling….it was so fun!

It was an early morning Saturday.  We had to report at practice at 7am to get our field assignments.  To our surprise, the Alumni Band was the entire pregame show!  We practiced our pictures on the field for about an hour and a half.  Things came back to me very quickly…again…high step marching with a swagger which is a signature Hawkeye Marching Band move!  I did get a little emotional the very first time that we ran through it with the full percussion and playing.  How fun it was to be back there doing this!

We gave a little pep rally of our own, separate from the “junior band” and then we lined up to march to the stadium.  We marched to our Iowa drum cadence and the tailgating crowd cheered for us!  As we enter the front of the stadium, you can hear the drumline echoing in the concorse and hear people on the concourse cheering.  They are reaching out to us for a high five as we march by.  And then we enter the tunnel.  The tunnel takes us right to the field.  I start to tear up with excitement.

Out of the tunnel is the bright sunlight and the green of the field.  People are getting to their seats, watching the teams warm up.  Pretty soon, it’s time for US to line up for pregame.  The drumline and sousaphones line up in the endzone, while the rest of us split up.  Half of us are on one sideline and the other half of us on the other sideline.  We crouch down and wait.  When the announcer says, “Are you ready for the BOOM?”  the drumline starts and they, along with the sousaphones, start marching out, we march out then.  We are facing the one endzone, with half an empty field ahead of us to march and make our formations.  I have never been in that first line…but I was Saturday.  It was such a different view…not having to look around somebody else. 

We started playing and marching (high step again) our traditional school rousers and fight song.  They added a song in between for us to play as well. 

What was really neat about marching…and I feel so blessed to have experienced this as a student and now as an alumni….it is quite a feeling to be on the football field, marching and playing your school’s fight song and other familiar songs of our school, and have the entire crowd stand up, clap and sing along.  The attendance that day was 70, 598…..imagine….70,598 people clapping and singing along with you.  Imagine that many people watching you and cheering for your group.  It was absolutely amazing.  And in the time since I left Iowa, I had forgotten how thrilling it is to be on that field. 

I probably am a band geek, and I’m proud to be.  Being in band was one of the best activities I’ve ever done.  I was also an athlete in high school and I ran cross country in college, and I had wonderful experiences with all of my athletics and wouldn’t trade those for the world.  But music has brought so many opportunities and experiences into my life that I would never have been able to experience had I NOT been in band.   The roar of 70,598 people is very difficult to describe, and saying it was exciting and electrifying really doesn’t even touch on how it felt or sounded…or the amount of pride I felt for my school that day.

Being a member of the University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band is a very neat thing.  There is a camaraderie….it’s sort of a “club” if you will.  One that I’m very proud to have been a member of.  But the very BEST thing about being part of the Hawkeye Marching Band…is that I met that handsome trumpet player and married him.

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2 responses to “Memoirs of a Band Geek

  1. Deb Day says:

    Love this–I thought of you often on Saturday and wondered how the day went. I did hear the band play the pregame. Sounded great–but that wasn’t the important part, was it?

  2. Anne says:

    Oh, our stories are SO similar! I also found my handsome trumpet player (although a different one) in marching band. I played clarinet, though. Even less audible in the stands 😉

    I would like to do alumni band someday. If I can convince Tom to do it with me. (hmmmm)

    But Kinnick is electric. We have season tickets and I swear the feeling never changes, never gets old. I am proud to admit I tear up a bit when the band takes the field, and when the team rushes out of the tunnel I get chills. Every. Single. Time.

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