Time and Dedication: Marching Band members dedicate countless hours

There is nothing that matches the feeling of being on the field after pregame [performance] when those sirens go off and the whole stadium just roars with excitement,” said Shelby Robinson, junior in Iowa State Marching Band.

Sierra Hoeger

Three hundred and forty three alarms go off at the crack of dawn to excite Iowa State Marching Band members on game day.

No two performances are the same. Some games, members dress in their typical band uniform and other games members may dress in an inflatable dinosaur costume. 

“There is nothing that matches the feeling of being on the field after pregame [performance] when those sirens go off and the whole stadium just roars with excitement,” said Shelby Robinson, junior in Iowa State Marching Band.

The Iowa State Cyclone Varsity Marching Band practices and performs a pregame and halftime show for each home game. The members typically have two weeks to prepare and put together a show.

“We rehearse every week, and this season was really challenging, because we had six weekends in a row of activities because we traveled to Iowa as well,” said Christian Carichner, Marching Band Director. “So, it made it really hard, and there were some weeks where we had a one-week turnaround.” 

The band is mostly made up of non-music majors. These students are encouraged to learn time-management skills. Carichner said he is proud of how well the students manage their studies as well as marching band, even on those one week turn-arounds.

“This year is also really challenging with the weather,” Carichner said. “It really ruined our field for a few weeks, and made it difficult to practice outside, and we don’t have a place to practice indoors, so it was really a testament to the students who put on those shows this year.”

Planning shows for the upcoming academic year can begin as early as February. Carichner and a team of directors accept ideas from members of the band, and use their own intuition to decide what would make good shows throughout the course of the season. They then reveal the shows to the students around the same time as finals, during the spring semester.

Planned performances can change with the weather and tragedies. Iowa State Marching Band changed their planned performance, in September, after Celia Barquín Arozamena was killed. 

“I think it came across in a really great way, it was humbling that they [athletics department], asked us to be a part of that tribute and it showed how, in some ways, the marching band is a pretty big thread in the fabric of the university,” Carichner said.

Arozamena was honored at the Sept. 22 game as Female Athlete of the Year.

The band changed their traditional ISU formation during the pregame performance and instead, spelled out Arozamena’s initials, CBA.

Some people might say members of the band crazy for looking forward to game days, due to the early wake up calls. For an 11 p.m. kickoff, band members have to be at the stadium by 5:30 a.m.

“The cool part about our students and our band is that the second we see them, they are so amped right away,” Carichner said. “They come into the facility [where] we practice and they’re screaming ‘It’s game day!,’ and they’re super excited and super pumped. To have that kind of spirit sustained for that amount of time, that’s nine or ten hours of sustained Cyclone spirit. We’re in there working and making sure we put on a good show for them, and again, it’s a testament to how awesome the students are.”

Band members are known for having an unbeatable amount of energy, despite when they woke up, or the performance that day.

“The atmosphere is always so positive,” said Alyssa Lantz, Iowa State Marching Band senior. “The band is always excited and pumped to start pre-game or do a high school exhibition. We all do this because we love the activity, so we are all excited for any performance even if if we had a call time of 6 a.m.”

As with any organization or club at a university, the bonds you create within make it all the more worthwhile. And with over 300 members in the marching band, it’s quite easy to make new friends.

“It’s really easy to make friends in the marching band, first of all everyone is really friendly, and second of all we’re around each other so much that you might as well talk to people and meet them, so altogether it is a great way to meet people and make friends,” said freshman Carter Klanderud.

Just because football season is almost over, that doesn’t mean the band is. The pep band performs at basketball games, wrestling meets and other events where they’re requested.

Pep band differs from marching band because they’re in one spot throughout the event, rather than having a drill formation to follow on a field.

“It’s interesting because some of our students are really passionate about football, some are passionate about basketball, and some are really passionate about band,” Carichner said. “And you get a mix of all of that in all of those groups.”

The pep band typically performs faster music, due to the fact that they’re not moving around on their feet and the music doesn’t need to be memorized by the members.

“We have a ton of game day traditions in the band that make the whole experience unlike game day from any other perspective,” Robinson said.

Marching band enhances Cyclone spirit on campus and brings energy to wherever they’re performing, whether it be at Jack Trice, Hilton, a high school exhibition or at a parade or community event.

“They have gotten me through the ups and downs of college and we have all suffered together through the cold and marching on the band practice swamp,” Lantz said. “With all the time we spend together, they really are my second family that I don’t know what I will do without after I graduate.”