After starting a revolution, the Miami University Marching Band (MUMB) is on its way to New Orleans.
The band has done neither of these in a literal sense, but it has incorporated both of these ideas into its two shows for the 2022 season.
The first show, titled “Revolution,” featured the songs “One Day More” from the musical “Les Misérables,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister and “1812 Overture” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Brooke Johnson, director of MUMB, said the first show was meant to be harder because pre-semester band camp allowed them to prepare for it.
“Of the two shows, the first might be a little more serious, a little more difficult in nature,” Johnson said. “The second is going to be hopefully a little bit easier, a little quicker to learn and maybe a little more fun and light-hearted.”
The marching band performed “Revolution” in its entirety at the Homecoming football game. The band then began work on its second show in preparation for Family Weekend.
The second show, “The Big Easy,” focuses on New Orleans music in the first part and transitions to Mardi Gras in the second part.
At one point, it was normal for the marching band to perform more than one show throughout the season. However, when Brooke Johnson arrived five years ago to serve as director of MUMB, the band was focused on doing longer, five-part shows each season.
The band would focus on the first half of the show at the start of the semester and build upon the second half throughout the season. Johnson says the two shows this year will work similarly.
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“What we're doing this year, it's similar in the sense that we're going to learn a few pieces of music at the beginning, and then we're going to learn a few pieces of music in the middle of the season,” Johnson said. “But instead of all falling under the same kind of theme and umbrella, it's going to be two totally different ideas, so I think my hope is that the students find that fun and interesting.”
Alisha Rader, a senior music education major, is in her second year as one of the band’s four drum majors. She said the idea of doing two shows is promising.
“I’m really excited to see how it goes,” Rader said. “The first show is going really, really well. We have a group of really good marchers this year, so I’m interested to see how it’s going to fall in terms of just bowl games, postseason travel, as well as just performing at games.”
Julianne Smith, a first-year secondary English education major, is part of the band’s color guard, which performs flag routines while the band plays. Smith said the second show will be a good way to improve the band’s skills.
“It’s an interesting opportunity,” Smith said. “During high school marching band, the season kind of slowed. You don’t learn as much later on in the season, so having two shows means you’re constantly improving while also keeping things fresh and interesting.”
To properly execute both shows, the MUMB has to rely on breaks of multiple weeks between home football games. Johnson also wrote the drill for the second show to be easier.
Johnson doesn’t want the band members to feel like their work on the first show was for waste, though.
“I hope they enjoy the transition from one show to two, and I also hope it doesn’t feel too jarring to them,” Johnson said. “They’ve worked long and hard on this first show, so I don’t want them to feel like it’s done, and it was all for nothing. I want them to feel satisfied with all the hard work they’ve done but be ready for something new.”
Corbin Jones, a first-year major of digital commerce, plays snare drum this year for the band. He was intimidated by the concept of doing two shows at first, but is excited to switch things up.
“[It’s] kind of scary,” Jones said. “During band camp, we were able to learn dots and stuff, devote hours and hours to it, and then now we’re going to learn a whole show in three practices a week, and it’s going to be a big difference, but I think we’ll be able to.”
Seniors also mentioned the difference in the marching band, coming out of having to adjust with COVID-19 restrictions and a year of playing virtually.
Olivia Schaefer, a senior zoology and environmental science co-major, plays the trumpet. Despite struggles with COVID-19, Schaefer said the band should be prepared to do both shows.
“It’s a younger band because we had kind of this gap from COVID,” Schaefer said. “There’s a lot of people who had their freshman year for Zoom band. I only had one year of real marching band before COVID hit, but we’re getting stronger and stronger every day, and I think we can easily perform two shows.”
In addition to giving the band an opportunity to learn new music and drills, Johnson said she hopes the new show is exciting for audiences.
“I want to give the fans something different to see,” Johnson said. “I hope that from their perspective, it makes them want to stay in their seats and watch halftime instead of saying, ‘I saw the show already. I'll go get a hotdog or whatever.’ My hope is that the fans are excited to see what we do next.”
Johnson ultimately still hopes the band members are able to find value in the second show and have fun with it.
Based on the strong bonds between the nearly 250 members, Johnson seemingly has nothing to worry about.
“Everybody is always in good moods, always ready to help you out, always ready to give you a hug,” Jones said. “We’ve only been together for a few months … but I feel like it’s a family.”
Rader also views the band as a family. She said she looks forward to it in her schedule.
“I really enjoy the family aspect of it,” Rader said. “I feel like every time I come here, I know that I’m going to see friends. It’s a breath of fresh air for me in terms of just the day of stress and day of college.”
In addition to the close-knit family aspect of it, the marching band provides students with multiple opportunities.
Schaefer said the band helped her make friends she otherwise may not have met, as well as travel to new places. During her first-year, she went to Alabama with the band and played in a Mardi Gras parade.
With hundreds of members, it should be easy to feel insignificant in the marching band, but the different sections of the band also allow members to form tighter bonds with people who play the same instruments. Plus, the final shows help the members reflect on their work.
Smith said the band is a good way to contribute to a whole community.
“I like the togetherness aspect of it,” Smith said. “I like feeling like I’m a part of something bigger than myself, and I feel like I can express myself and be part of a whole.”