Western Herald – What goes into a Bronco Marching Band halftime show

What goes into a Bronco Marching Band halftime show

The Bronco Marching Band practices in the Lawson Ice Arena parking lot, complete with painted yard lines. John Campbell/Western Herald

John Campbell
A&E Reporter

The Bronco Marching Band is a lot like the U.S. Postal Service.  Neither snow nor rain can stop them from delivering.

The band has to learn a brand new show in a week, learning both the songs and the marching movements.

“I think most people aren’t aware of what all goes into putting a halftime show together,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery played trumpet in junior high school, high school and college before getting his master’s and doctorate degrees in wind conducting.

“I taught high school band for four years before I got hired here,” Montgomery said.

Senior Field Assistant Mike O’Hearn said he played baritone for a year and trombone for three years, two of which he was the section leader.

“Dr. Montgomery says you’ve got to leave the field with your head up, always knowing you gave 100 percent,” O’Hearn said.

Sophomore Dan Olsson said he has played baritone since his junior year of high school after switching from the trumpet.  His favorite part of the year is band camp.

“You get so much accomplished in a relatively short amount of time,” Olsson said.

Freshman trumpet player Alexandra Ferguson said the band is together a lot.

“It’s like having a bunch of family members away from home,” Ferguson said.

The band is a big commitment for Olsson, who is an aviation student and has to do flying as well as classes and band commitments, so it’s good to have that closeness.

“I have a ton of friends here and I think most people here do,” Olsson said.

O’Hearn said a lot of being in band is being able to relate to your peers and being conscious of how people see you.

Ferguson said that if a train goes by during band practice, the band will stop what they are doing and wave.

“Having the quirky traditions makes it fun,” Ferguson said.

Montgomery said that he’s living the dream, even if being a band director is hard work.

“I’ve wanted to be a college band director since I was a little boy,” Montgomery said.

The Bronco Marching Band is the best band in the Mid-American Conference and one of the best bands in the country, he said.

O’Hearn said that a football game day starts with two to three hours of rehearsal in the morning and a pregame concert at the Student Recreation Center.

“From the time we get to the rec to the time the game is over, we never sit down,” O’Hearn said.

Olsson said that the first football game involved a rehearsal at 8:30 a.m. rehearsal that lasted two hours, followed by a break until 5 p.m.  The band then stays together until after the game.

“It’s a long day, but we still manage to have fun,” Ferguson said.  “It’s awesome to be on the field with a group with such a powerful sound that brings so much energy to the game.”

The 2012 school year is special for the School of Music; even the halftime show at Homecoming will not be tied into it.

“The School of Music is celebrating its 100th anniversary this school year and next school year,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery said that sporting events are not the only times the band plays.  Volunteers of the band played The Star Spangled Banner at Sangren Hall on September 11 in memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11.

The band also will be in the Holiday Parade in downtown Kalamazoo on November 10, and will have an indoor concert at Miller Auditorium on November 11, where they will review all of the music that they have played all season.



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Erin Gignac is the editor in chief of the Western Herald. She is a senior with a double major in journalism and American public policy at Western Michigan University. Email her at herald-editor@wmich.edu

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