If you go to Syracuse University, then you’re more than familiar with the marching band. They stand on the steps of Hendricks Chapel and get the crowd up and ready for sports events with their show on the Quad. You see them rush out onto the field for their pregame performance. Throughout any game, they keep the energy moving in the stands, playing piece after piece. When the 2nd quarter timer hits zero, they step back onto the field for the halftime show. Within that sea of orange uniforms, instruments, and flags, there are students and musicians who are passionate about what we do.
Being in the marching band is by no means a small commitment. To look and sound great the band rehearses every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; when there is a game, the band dedicates their Friday and Saturday as well. Despite the long hours, they take it all in stride. As one member, Jamed Kamara, a junior, put it, “It all pays off in the end.” Being a member of the band myself, I too feel it definitely pays off. We all joined the band for different reasons. Maybe it was to find like-minded people, a sense of community and purpose, to improve our musical skills, or to be a part of something new or carry on tradition. Yet while our reasons may differ, we still come together as a whole.
“Students come here and it’s sort of like a sanctuary. They throw their entire being into this band and they just love everyone around,” says Liam Hines, who is one of the three drum majors. Drum major Amanda Zall agrees.
“It really is like a safe haven,” she explains. “When I joined the marching band they took me for who I was.” The community is at the heart of the marching band. Community strengthens us. And it’s not just the internal band community, but Syracuse University’s community as well. We play at games, yes, but also at commencement and other important events. We are a musical embodiment of the SU spirit, and even the tradition and culture.
“We push SU culture. 44, the number that football player and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis wore, is one of our mottos here, and one of the key mottos in all of the university. We push that motto,” says Drum Major Kieran O’Halloran. “When a band member hears 44, they yell ‘Go Orange!’ We do it with our fight song, “Down the Field,” as well.” Every touchdown, every commencement, every event we’re at, we play our fight song. We’re constantly pushing SU culture.” The band is intertwined with everything the university stands for. We’re a microcosm of Syracuse University. The diversity, community, culture, and traditions of Syracuse are reflected in the band, and we reflect all of these aspects wherever we go. We are the face of SU, music and all. We are the ambassadors of what SU stands for.
“You think it’s about the music, you think it’s about the marching, and sure that’s part of it,” states Dr. Diem, director of the marching band. “But really, it’s all that other stuff.” What we represent gives us meaning. So when you see the band go marching down the street, just remember, with each step we represent the best of SU: community, spirit, and tradition.