Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Central Marching Band

by Casey Gamble

In September 1923, the students of the Central Normal College were hustling around in a frenzied attempt to register for classes (Central State Life, 9/25/1923, p. 2). The only peace to be had on campus was coming from the marching band. It was the band’s duty to lighten the atmosphere and remind students that their first days in Mount Pleasant were the start of an exciting chapter of their lives. This past week, with freshmen moving into residence halls, students buying their books, and friends meeting up after three months of summer vacation, the CMU marching band can still be heard playing in the background during an otherwise chaotic time.

CMU’s first football game isn’t far away, coming up this Thursday, August 25th, but the football players aren’t the only ones practicing every day. During band week, which happens right before the start of classes, the Marching Chips are on the practice field all day, every day, whether in the blazing heat or the pouring rain. Throughout campus, the Marching Chips work on the songs and routines that will be on display for thousands of fans throughout the fall.

The cadence of the drums can be felt across the Warriner Mall, the trumpets blare the high notes that will be the highlight of their performances, and the members of the woodwinds work in numbers to create big volume that will support the whole band. All of these musicians put in hours of work to learn about eight songs for football halftime shows in addition to the dozens of pregame tunes, stand times, and of course, the CMU Fight Song.
But the work doesn’t stop after band week. It should be remembered that the members of the Marching Chips are first and foremost CMU students. Once classes start, many of the music majors will be taking 10+ classes and they combine that with marching band practice a few hours in the afternoon, except for game days when some sections will be practicing by 7:00 am. Graduate students and senior section leaders will help the mostly freshman marchers keep each foot together and each note in sync until the formations are performed to perfection.

And what does all of this hard work bring? It brings cheer to the students of CMU when they need an upbeat song to get them through their studies. It brings life to football game halftimes. It brings traditions that have been handed down through generations of Marching Chips. And it brings the experience of discipline and perseverance to the musicians who are a part of the Central Marching Band.