With high knees, high aerials and high expectations, the Eastern Michigan University Marching Band is ready to hit a high note this fall.
The marching band, which has nearly 200 members, is directed by EMU professor of instrumental music education Amy Knopps, and is entering its 118th year in the 2012 season.
Besides gaining 75 new band members and the return of over 110 marching veterans, Knopps said the band will also be flaunting some new attire this year.
“In addition to the [band’s] growth, we will be debuting new uniforms this fall. Our previous uniforms were 16 years old, doubling the normal life expectancy of a typical band uniform,” Knopps said.
The EMU Marching Band has a very busy schedule ahead of them. In addition to all of the home games they perform at, they will be traveling to Michigan State University for an away game. They also perform every year at the opening convocation ceremony and at the annual Bandorama event, where they showcase not only the marching band, but the Wind Symphony and the Symphonic Band as well.
The band also puts on the annual March-A-Thon fundraiser, which is hosted by band service organizations Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi, where they march around the campus, local neighborhoods and Ypsilanti businesses asking for donations.
Knopps said she feels the marching band is central to the EMU college experience.
“I believe the EMU Marching Band is truly the soundtrack to the university. We enjoy playing our best for those in attendance,” she said. “When you hear the EMU Marching Band playing the ‘[Eastern] Eagles Fight Song’ or singing the alma mater you cannot help but stand with pride for your university.”
Some students chose to become an EMU Eagle because of the marching band, like incoming freshman and clarinetist Samantha Schneider.
“After doing marching band in high school for four years, I knew I wanted to continue in college,” Schneider said. “I looked up videos of the EMU Marching Band and was in awe at how clean and precise they were. I’m very excited to be a part of the marching band this year, and I hope the band continues to be just what I’m looking for.”
For EMU junior and alto-sax leader Rachel McGuire being a member of the marching band is about everlasting friendships.
“Marching band at Eastern really is like a family. You have over 100 people that you know you can count on to be there for you if you need anything. You get to move in early and meet tons of people, so when classes start there are familiar faces on campus and you aren’t alone on your first day of college,” she said.
McGuire said she’s also had some of the best experiences of her life in band, and has met people she believes will be lifelong friends.
“It’s really hard to put into words what the [marching band] means to me. I’m not a music major, but I need music in my life and marching band fulfills that need perfectly,” McGuire said.
Knopps said the anticipation and beginning of the bands pre-game performances are some of her favorite moments.
”Knowing how hard those students work every week, the dedication they have to the marching band and the university, it makes us walk out with pride and excitement every time. I get very emotional about it because I love this job. I love what I do, and the staff and students I get to work with every day,” she said.
Knopps also had some words of wisdom for members of the EMU Marching Band, both new and old.
“Enjoy being in this group and with your peers as much as you can. Do not take these moments for granted. Make great music, move well and always show your pride.”