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The University of New Hampshire Wildcat Marching Band, or "WMB," has a tradition of being one of the most spirited organizations on campus. Made up of students from the entire campus, with majors ranging from music education and performance to mechanical engineering and equine science, the WMB performs at all home football games and several other regional exhibitions and parades. Membership in the WMB is open to ALL students regardless of experience level. In fact, a majority of the band members are non-music majors and the band's GPA is consistently above the university average.
The season begins one week before classes start with band camp. After band camp, the band rehearses every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 to 8 PM. The WMB also meets Saturday mornings when there are home games to refine the show and go over the details for the day.
After rehearsals and games, many band members hang out and do social things together. Friendships are formed that last for life.
The Wildcat Marching Band welcomed 2010 in "The Most Magical Place on Earth": Walt Disney World!
On Monday, December 28th, 2009, 83 members of the Wildcat Marching Band and staff boarded two buses bound for Orlando. After a long and eventful trip down, they arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom the following day. After a few hours riding rides like Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinosaur, and, of course, Expedition: Everest, a tired WMB headed to the Springhill Suites Sea World for a good night's sleep.
What are some of the reasons students choose to join the Wildcat Marching Band? Read on to find out!
Sometimes there are some misconceptions about joining the Wildcat Marching Band. Think it takes too much time? Think you have to be a music major? Think again!
I WON’T HAVE TIME
This is probably the most common misconception about joining the Wildcat Marching Band. The truth is, you’ll have plenty of time to be a member of the WMB. Compare your college class schedule to your high school schedule. The average high school student spends 30 hours per week in class. The average college student spends 12-15 hours per week in class. Remember all of the people telling you to get involved when you go to college? This is exactly the sort of thing they had in mind! The WMB rehearses only 3 nights per week, for 2 hours each rehearsal. On game Saturdays, you’ll be busy, but there are usually only 5 home games. Unlike some high schools, we don’t call extra rehearsals either. Some sections may decide to get together outside of regular rehearsals, but that’s up to the section members. Also, if you’re worried about having enough time to study, don’t worry! You will have plenty of time. In fact,the last time we calclated it, the average GPA of the marching band was 3.43!
I NEED TO BE A MUSIC MAJOR
All of the UNH Department of Music ensembles are open to students outside the music department. Some are by audition, but the Marching Band is open to anyone. In fact, 75% of the WMB membership is made up of non-music majors.
IT WILL INTERFERE WITH MY MAJOR
Not true! While all of the information thrown at you during orientation may have been overwhelming, most of the time the WMB will not interfere with your major. If you have a required class that conflicts with marching band and there isn’t another section of the course, that may be a problem. If it interferes with only one rehearsal, we may be able to work around it. UNH students are allowed to register for up to 20 credits without paying extra, and can petition to take up to 6 more credits for free, as long as they are activity-type credits, such as marching band (this varies for music majors). While you were allowed to pre-register for only 18 credits, you can add additional credits during open registration and the add/drop period in the fall. If you need help with your schedule, or want to switch to another section of a course that conflicts with rehearsal, but that section is full, contact Mrs. Goodwin and she may be able to help.
I WON’T BE GOOD ENOUGH, OR I WILL FEEL LEFT BEHIND THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS
We have dozens of rookie band members from various marching backgrounds every year. Some have never marched before, and those who have come from bands with varying marching styles. Because of this, we start every band camp with the basics. This allows our new members to learn our style (or how to march to begin with) and our veteran members to brush up on their technique. The band members are extremely patient with new marchers, and will go out of their way to help those who are struggling. Remember, each and every member of the WMB was a rookie at one point!
PART 2: I’LL BE TOO GOOD
Sometimes those who come from a heavily-competitive background worry that they won’t be challenged in the same way. While we don’t compete, we still strive to put on a high-quality show. Because we are housed in the music department, we take a similar approach to our season as a competitive corps-style band does. While we do need to keep the football-fan audience in mind, we stress quality of performance, especially when it comes to the music. Some college bands cater heavily to the football crowd and do different shows every week. While it’s fun to change things up like that, the quality or difficulty-level of performance often suffers due to the reduced preparation time. We do one full show with challenging drill, music, and colorguard carriage and keep working to improve it over the course of the semester. Sometimes, we will add a second small show for events such as Halloween, or add another tune to the halftime show later in the season to keep things interesting. Instrumentalists will also develop their sight-reading chops, as we have very little time to rehearse the music we play in the stands.
While we have many new marchers in the band every year, the majority of band members have been in marching band, drum corps, winterguard, and or indoor drumline before joining. In other words, we have a very wide range of ability levels on day one! We count on the expertise of our experienced performers to help bring the less-experienced performers up to a higher level. When we’re on the field, we’re one band; we have a culture of camaraderie rather than one-upsmanship and leave egos at home. That way everyone can take pride in what we accomplish and have a good time!
IT WILL BE TOO HARD
Many people find it is less intense than their high school. Contrary to what many believe, there are no competitions at the collegiate level for marching band. Our main performance venue is half-time at our home football games. We also travel to one away game (all paid for by the school) and perform at two high school shows in exhibition. Marching Band is supposed to be fun, so we won’t make you do push-ups or run laps (but you can if you want!). That being said, the members of the WMB do take a LOT of pride in our performance, so we do work hard to put on the best show we can. We’ve found a happy medium!
Your experience in the WMB will be different than that of your high school band. If you have that realization coming in, you’ll have a great time! You may have to change the way your feet are when you stand at attention or learn some new commands. Be receptive to change and up for new adventures. One thing is for certain: you’ll make LOTS of new friends!
Also, each rookie band member will be paired up with a veteran who has something in common (usually a major/department or dorm). This person will be there to help you find your way around and to answer questions during band camp, and will also be there to help you out during the semester if you need advice.
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Wildcat Marching Band Alumni
If you are a former member of the Wildcat Marching Band, we encourage you to stay in touch with us! Alumni are invited to play in the Alumni Band at the Homecoming football game each year. The 95th Anniversary brunch was held in 2014, and we're looking forward to the 100th Anniversary celebration in 2019!
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Health of the marching musician has been a rapidly-growing subject of interest. From fitness to nutrition to proper footwear, find out how to have a healthy and comfortable season. None of this is meant to frighten you. Just the opposite! We want you to come in prepared. Every year we have several members who have never marched before and we can always get them up to speed. Whether this is your first year marching or your eighth, getting in shape ahead of time, eating well, staying hydrated, protecting your hearing, and having proper footwear will help you be more comfortable and successful.
Your arms may get tired holding up that baritone or doing all those drop spins. Develop those arm muscles now so you can shorten the period of adjustment. Do some cardio now so you won't be as out-of-breath at the end of that first run-through of the show. Get used to eating well now so you don't go overboard on the fro-yo and cookies when you get to the dining hall and regret it when you get out on the field in the sun!
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