by Allissa Van Steenis
So you’re thinking of joining the marching band, but wondering “is this the right thing for me?” Having finished my rookie year, I’ll see if I can answer some questions and offer some advice.
Iowa State Has a Marching Band?
Yes. The marching band is the Iowa State University Cyclone Football ‘Varsity’ Marching Band or ISUCF’V’MB for “short”. It is a group of around 350 college students who enjoy playing music and having fun together. We play a wide range of music in the stands and on the field.
Marching Band….in Iowa… Dino Suits???
Yes. We were the band with the inflatable dinosaur suits. (If you haven’t seen it, google it. 🙂 ) The students in the suits were part of State Storm, the other marching band on campus.
Do I Have Time for Marching Band?
Possibly. Marching band is a large time commitment. Rehearsals are an hour and a half every weekday and game day fills up Saturdays. New members are allowed to miss rehearsals once a week due to class conflict, returners are allowed to miss two rehearsals per week. Then, all students can miss a total of 180 minutes or 2 rehearsals for one time events, like an exam, study session, or any other event. The big thing, which you’ve probably heard countless times already, is to communicate.
Great, You Can Miss Some Rehearsals, But Do I Have Time For Marching Band While Being Involved In Literally Every Activity On Campus?
Unlikely? A big mistake that’s made when starting college is overloading. You could attempt to take a full course load, be in marching band, and 4 clubs that sounded super neat at club fest, but you probably won’t be having a good time. Personal advice, don’t sign up for everything at once. Give yourself time to adjust to college. It’s a new environment with all new people and it can be overwhelming at times. Start with a few things and add to it; this will allow you to get adjusted and find your limit for involvement.
Is College Marching Band Like High School Marching Band?
Sort of. This depends on the band program you come from. College marching band doesn’t have competitions like in high school. There is a new show for nearly every game, so you are always learning new drill and music instead of focusing on one complicated show for the whole season. College marching band goes through the entire semester. The ISUCF’V’MB has some really early mornings, like, 6 am call time early. In both, you make good friends and spend time with your band family.
DID I READ THAT TIME RIGHT??
Yes, yes you did. On game days we have a call time of about 5 hours before the kick-off. This allows for a final rehearsal, the step show, and all the other fun game day traditions.
There’s a Second Band?
YAAASSSSSS!! State Storm is a smaller group of students, around 65, in the second marching band. In comparison to the ISUCF’V’MB, they meet twice a week and have their own traditions for game day. Also, they play at the wrestling tournaments and soccer games and join the ISUCF’V’MB on the field for one game per season. You don’t audition directly for this group when auditioning everyone auditions for the varsity band.
YES! You have to audition to be a member of the marching band. There is a music and marching component to the audition. The music is probably already on the website and you’ll learn the marching at rookie camp. Personal advice: practice and memorize the music before rookie camp starts so you can focus on your marching technique.
What’s Rookie Camp?
It’s basically band camp, but with the students trying out for marching band. At camp, you’ll learn the marching technique used at Iowa State and other marching band things. This is before classes start, so you move in a few days early.
What If I Don’t Own My Instrument?
All good! The music department has some instruments that you can rent for the season for a low cost (maybe $25?) that is charged to your U-Bill.
What’s a U-Bill?
That’s not band related! Ask at orientation.
I Bet There’s a Fee.
You are correct. There is a uniform fee to cover the cost of cleaning and maintenance of uniforms (around $90). This is also charged to your U-Bill.
But I’m Not a Music Major?
All good! Most of the band isn’t. Fun fact: only about 5% of the marching band is made up of music majors. Another fun fact: nearly 40% of the marching band is made up of engineers. Another another fun fact: 100% of the marching band is made up of nerds. 🙂
Do You Travel?
Yes! The ISUCF’V’MB travels to some away games and high schools for exhibitions. During the last two seasons, the band traveled to the bowl games! The university covers the cost of traveling.
Will I Make Friends?
Highly likely. You still need to talk to people whether in or out of your section, but the marching band is a great way to meet people!
Okay, You’ve Convinced Me. How Do I Join?
Easy! Go to the marching band website and find the How To Join button. Follow instructions from there! This link may work: https://www.music.iastate.edu/org/marching
I’m Thinking About Doing Music But Maybe Not Marching Band?
There are other types of bands (and choirs) at Iowa State! You can find one that suits your schedule and interests.
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS THAT YOU DIDN’T COVER?!?!?!!?!?
Check the marching band website using the link above. There is an FAQ section that might answer your question. If not, go to the marching band booth at orientation and ask there.
TL;DR: Do band!