August 31, 2006

"This week, he's Satan. He's trying to scare away as many people as he can while also encouraging them. He's hard-core."

That would be UW Marching Band director Mike Leckrone at UW Marching Band boot camp (as described by a young tuba player):
It was day two of band boot camp - a four-day endurance test that will forever bond the 280 students who get picked for the UW Marching Band. It's a sweaty, stressful rite of passage, designed to cull the weak from the herd.

"Some people will walk off the field in the first 10 minutes," said Chris Hanson, 22, a senior tuba player. "The next day, only about 70 percent of the freshmen come back."...

Anyone with high school band experience can take part in the four-day tryout. Each freshman gets an audition with eckrone and endures five hours of marching drills and two hours of music rehearsals daily.

About half of the 160 freshmen will end up in the band.
Very nice. I've been listening to these guys practice -- and play in the stadium -- through the open windows of my house for more than 20 years.


Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

YEah, the Band is one of the great unheralded aspects of UW football (outside of Madison, that is). They brought the band out to Seattle in 1992 and all of us displaced Badgers got to enjoy them. THey did a concert at the Seattle Center Flag Pavilion the night before the game so there were a couple hundred of us there doing Varsity and the chicken dance and badly polka-ing to the Budweiser song.

Then came the game. It was the year after the Huskies won the Nat. Champ. and the Badgers were in their second year under Alvarez, so the result was pretty much foregone, but the Badgers actually did pretty well, beating the spread ("We beat the spread! We beat the spread!"). But the Band stayed for the 5th quarter so we did Varsity, chicken, etc. again.

Confused the heck out of the local seagull population, who knew from experience that when the stands started to empty out it meant a feast of popcorn and half-eaten hot dogs. . . .

bill said...

Marching bands are fun. The high school down the street from us is one of the best in the country and we'll go up in the evenings and watch them practice. Before the school year starts they do a band camp that sounds like UWs. Our neighbor's daughter is a sophomore at LSU and got a full-ride scholarship for the marching band, in large part because of her high school program.

JorgXMcKie said...

College marching bands are one of the few remaining unalloyed goods on campus. I've known more than a few band members over the years, and the number of bad eggs is lower than probably any other campus group. Maybe it's because they work so hard they don't have time to be bad. Plus, the tend to bring those work habits to class, which serves them well.

I went to U of Illinois, and I believe it had the first college marching band. Plus, even this fall, I expect Chief Illiniwek to come bursting out of the band at halftime. Go, Chief!!

Doolesfan said...

I always found the Wisconsin band a way more annoying version of a co-ed frat. "Delusionaly arrogant" is how a friend described them once after having a band member tell him that they were as big of a draw to Camp Randall as the football team. (This was post 1994, BTW). Leckrone is the driving force of that delusional arrogance.

One time on the way home from school on the Badger Express bus I sat in front of a pair of band members. I almost had to throw myself from the bus after listening to band stories for 90 minutes.

And they don't change after they graduate. A close friend's wife was a drummer and she still thinks anyone gives a crap that she marched in the band 10 years later. It's more sad than a washed up jock trying to relive their glory. At least someone may remember that particular jock's glory, where the band members are interchangable to the point where from a distance you can't even tell what gender they are when they march.

And all this isn't to say I didn't enjoy Fifth Quarter as much as anyone.

Kev said...

rnBeing in band can build a great sense of responsibility and camaraderie that's unparallelled in most other classes. I don't know for sure about the whole "Baby Mozart" thing (music makes you smarter, so start playing classical music for baby in the womb), but at least here in Texas, the people who make the All-State music groups score way above the national averages in terms of SAT scores. But the sense of community is the big thing, and the comments that very few "bad eggs" are in the band are consistent with my own experience.

One of the beautiful things about playing an instrument is that you can always come back to it, even years later. My college hosts an entire big band made up of engineers, and among my own students is a sixtysomething retired pilot who returned to the horn last summer after not playing for about forty years.

When I entered college, I thought I was going to be a band director, but things changed and I became a jazz musician and private instructor instead. I may teach longer hours and make a little less money than my band-director counterparts, but I do have all my hair, and it's not grey either...which can't be said for all of them, even the ones younger than I.

Dirk said...

I have to agree with Doolesfan, and I was in the Badger Marching Band for 3 years. "Delusionaly arrogant" is a great description of the majority of the band. My personality did not allow me to join in with that behavior, so most of the band, including those in my own section, barely knew I existed.

I thought most of the public behavior of band members was annoying and overtly insulting, and this seemed to be strongly encouraged by Leckrone, who I found to be personally cold and mean-spirited.

The hard-core members don't change after they graduate, while others do. I have been to a few alumni band days and there are a few whose first experience of bursting out of the tunnel was in the mid-70s and they still act the same way.

Off the field, I despised everything about the band. But when we were on the field, marching and playing, it was pure excitement. That's the only thing that kept me coming back.

Oh, and the Badger Band has the worst musicality of any college band in the land. Not surprising, since most members have music as an avocation rather than a vocation. I understand some colleges actually have music majors in their marching bands.

5th Quarter ROCKS!

ronin1516 said...

I am a fan of the Michigan Marching Band, with their high-stepping style. However, I was told that Michigan had the first college Marching band.
eitehr way, as a student, it was cool to see them come rushing out of the tunnel, and as a formewr michigan athlete, it still gives me the goosebumps when I hear tha band play "the Victors".
Go ahead and call me a jock or whatever, I dont care!!!