The University of Rhode Island’s Ram Marching Band, comprised of about 130 students, has already begun their rigorous practice towards the 2015 season.
This year’s co-drum majors, Leigh Anne Valleley and Katie Hollowell, have high expectations for the fall season. Valleley noted that this season has already been one of the smoothest years yet, regarding the incoming freshman and how well they are becoming acclimated to marching. She explained how most of the freshman already know how to march, and the ones that don’t are picking up quickly due to their pre-school band camp.
Hollowell believes that band camp is a great way to not only increase instrumental skills, but also to meet people and make connections before classes begin. The marching band members were able to move in on Aug. 31 without an early move-in fee because they are a student organization. Hollowell explained how nice it is to know a familiar face during the first week of school and avoid awkward encounters.
Over the past few weeks, the band has been working towards their fall show which has a “movies” theme. Their first show, which will take place this weekend, will focus on the movies E.T., Robin Hood and Pirates of the Caribbean. Valleley said that the band is also working on a piece from Gladiator, but they are saving that part of the show for a future performance.
At each football game, the marching band plays three segments: a pre-show, halftime show, and post show. During the pre-show, the band plays the National Anthem, as well as the classic, upbeat fight song. Valleley and Hollowell described the halftime show as the most exciting segment because they perform their routine in front of everyone and have the full attention of the audience.
During the beginning of the season, Valleley said that the post-show is usually the same show that they performed at halftime, but that as the season progresses on the post-show is different. Valleley encourages the audience to stay after the game to witness a potential surprise.
Although the Ram Band does not compete against surrounding universities, their 2014 show received positive remarks from the general public. The band performs at all of the home football games, and usually travels to about one away game each season. Members meets four times a week when there is an upcoming game, and three times a week otherwise. Students have the ability to gain academic credit because the band is not only an organization, but a class as well.
Aside from routines presented at the football games, the Ram Band has the opportunity to show off their hard work one final time at the end of the season. Valleley said that the members put on their uniforms and perform all of their show music from the season during a sit-down concert in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Center. She explained how most people don’t know about this final show, and even if they do, they might not go. Valleley hopes people will attend, assuring, “It’s okay to like the band- it doesn’t make you nerdy.”
Both Valleley and Hollowell believe that band has been a vital part of their life and refer to their bandmates as their closest friends, and even their family.
Hollowell explained how she had always loved music, but was skeptical about participating in band during her high school years as an alto saxophone player.
“It was a rough start, but then snowballed,” Hollowell said. “I kept loving it and loving it and here I am, a drum major in college, and still loving it.”
Similarly, Valleley was involved with marching band in her high school as she began to play the flute and the tenor saxophone. She said that although she originally tried to be on the swim team as well as the band, during her junior year, she decided to put all of her effort into just playing in band.
“The bug bit me hard and I had to do it,” Valleley said. “I was the drum major in high school and this is round two in college.”
Valleley, a senior Music Education major, and Hollowell, a junior Music Education major, both have a love for music, but majoring in music is not a requirement. The Ram Band is diverse, containing members from all fields of study and various different levels of music experience.
The Marching Ram Band will perform their first show on Sept. 19 during the University of Rhode Island’s first home game versus Harvard University. The game begins at 1p.m. and tickets are free for students.