Marching band features record number of members

Tailgating, cooler weather and increased school spirit mark more than just the beginning of the football season. They also signify the start of the season for the Saginaw Valley marching band.

This year, the marching band is significantly larger, with a record-breaking 114 members. This is the first time William Wollner, band director, has had more than 100 members since he assumed his position 33 years ago.

Last year, the band had 55 members.

“They definitely sound good,” Wollner said.

Chase Guerin, a music education major, credits the higher participation to increased recruitment. Guerin said that this year the leadership is stronger, as students are really stepping up.

Students come from varying levels of experience, from large or small high schools, and some have backgrounds in competitive bands.  There is no requirement for membership, and the band encourages all students to join.

Performing during half-time at football games, the band is planning four different shows for the six home games.  It will also play at the homecoming pep rally and march in the parade.

Additionally, the band will be performing a year-end concert at the Malcolm Field Theatre, showcasing all four sets.

It performed songs by Fall Out Boy and Fun. at the past two home games. At upcoming shows, Wollner plans to have the band play songs by Disney and other new radio hits.

Each performance showcases two twirlers, Hailee Butler and Kara Terry. The marching band added the twirlers to the team after they approached the Wollner before the beginning of last year’s marching band season.

In preparation for the season, band members attended camp Aug. 18 through Aug. 21, putting in about 10-12 hours of rehearsal daily.

Members meet twice per week as a whole for rehearsal. Additionally, they rehearse with their individual sections once per week.

One of the biggest obstacles the band faces is the weather.  Whenever it rains, the members are unable to practice outside because of the potential damage to their instruments.  With only a few practices, weather restrictions can leave the band with limited time to learn new drills and music.

Wollner sets realistic goals for the band, selecting music that is challenging but able to be learned in a short timeframe.  With these limitations in mind, Lynn Sonsmith writes appropriate practice drills for the band.

“(The) marching band is the voice of the school,” Guerin said. “We get the team pumped up, boost morale and get everyone cheering.”

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