Feature article on the marching band for the Iowa State Daily. Online version can be found here.
Sep 22, 2015
While most fall Saturdays at Iowa State are focused on the trials and triumphs of the football team, another group exists that performs in front of an audience of more than 50,000.
The ISU Cyclone Football Varsity Marching Band begins its practice for the fall season much like a football team. The summer features tryouts and long nine-hour practice days. Members show up on gamedays almost six hours early and have already warmed up by the time they welcome the football team with the fight song.
The band also goes through a series of physical warmups and breathing exercises to ensure its best performance.
“The thing that surprised me the most was how much work you put into it,” said Jonny Schmidt, sophomore clarinet player. “You have to memorize all the new music and stuff, and you realize how close of a family it is. It’s a really connected group.”
Throughout the school year, the band practices Monday through Friday. Most practices consist of learning new formations and memorizing the music to be played at halftime shows.
Before every game, all 350 members of the band must pass a music check to ensure their parts are memorized and ready to perform for an audience. The Cyclone Marching Band will learn 56 tunes to play during the football season.
The music is all chosen by students and arranged by band director Steven Smyth and assistant director Christian Carichner.
“We try to ask them to narrow it down to 10 choices, and then Mr. Carichner [and] I sit down and go through and find out what we’re willing to play on the field and what we can arrange and what’s possible,” Smyth said. “Every year [the] [Cyclone Marching Band] want[s] to do a Pink Floyd show, but we just can’t arrange that kind of music.”
Although the process before the games is time-consuming, members said the memories they make together make the experience worth while. From singing “Happy Birthday” to members after practice to going around neighborhoods on Halloween, the Cyclone Marching Band is full of traditions.
“You get out there with all your friends and you’re doing everything together as a group, and it’s just loads of fun,” said Dillan Glock, senior piccolo player.
Schmidt said the energy within the stands during football games is where the real fun is for the marching band.
“Even though you look really cool in the [field], your real power comes from in the stands throughout the game [because] that’s what really gets people going,” Schmidt said. “They say always be excited within the stands and stuff, just have a lot of energy, [and] you’re the ultimate fan.