Marching Band is a class (MUS 323R), and therefore requires enrollment during fall semester (September – December). Rehearsals are held each Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, with the color guard members arriving at 3:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays to learn new routines prior to rehearsal with the band. The drumline also holds an additional section rehearsal from 3:00 to 4:00 pm on Fridays.
The full band rehearsal time is used to prepare for performances at all home games, a homecoming parade, a concert performance, and a performance at our high school Marching Band competition. There is also a pre-season band camp and often a trip to a bowl game. Even though we could often use more than the 6 hours per week rehearsal time, a high priority of our program is to not interfere with the academic demands of our students. Therefore we accomplish all group rehearsal within the time that is scheduled.
There are annual band dues of $50.00 which help to cover the cost of incidental band expenses, such as dry cleaning. In addition to this amount, white gloves ($3.00; $4.50 for gloves with grips), navy blue wristbands ($3.00 for drummers; $12.00 for tenors) and white oxford shoes (for all instrumentalists, about $36.00) are required. They may be purchased at Band Camp if you don’t have them, and must be approved for use if you already have them.
Bowl game expenses (including meals) are covered entirely by the bowl invitation. Any trips to away games cover transportation and lodging, leaving the students with only the minimal cost of meals.
The band size is set at 225 performing members. There are also members designated as alternates to enable us to cover spots left by illnesses or emergencies. The 225 generally includes 160 woodwinds and brass, 25-30 percussionists, and 25-30 color guard members (female only).
Currently, only about 20% of the band are music majors. We have students from virtually every major on campus. Students in most majors enjoy being a part of the band because they still want to perform on their instrument and have an “outlet” from their other college studies. Of course, the music majors are also an important part of the organization and many of them see this experience as a way to prepare for future careers in music.
Because the marching band’s first performance usually takes place during the first week of school, we have found it necessary to begin one week prior to the start of school in the fall. During this week members learn BYU Marching Band basics, our pregame show and our first halftime show. Obviously, rehearsals are intense during those days and new students are not able to attend conflicting New Student Orientation activities. New students will instead have a special condensed orientation meeting presented by the New Student Orientation committee during Band Camp. This meeting is especially designed for Cougar Band members and features the top advisors from the university.
Band performances at games usually include 6 home games (generally Saturday afternoon/evening), in-state games against the University of Utah and/or Utah State University and a potential bowl game at the end of the year. Trips to in-state games are usually an hour or two away from campus and is easily accomplished on the day of the game.
With the rise of BYU football to national prominence, the Cougar Band has accompanied the football team to a bowl game 32 of the last 39 years. These games have provided the band with performance opportunities in Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Nevada, and New Mexico. As bowl games are generally during the holidays, there are about four days of activities that integrally involve the band with the bowl festivities. All band members are required to attend. Because most bowl games take place during the holiday season, arrangements include air travel to the game for those who are at home.
Many band members (even non-majors) do participate in both marching and concert bands simultaneously. Also, since the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band are offered both semesters, there is the possibility of joining a concert band during the winter semester. Instrumentalists are encouraged to continue performing year-round and the non-auditioned University Band provides the opportunity for many as it is offered as an evening class. Marching Band members who participate in a large ensemble during winter semester are not required to re-audition for the marching band the following year.
Instruments are available to students who do not own one. Instrument lockers are available in the band facilities at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Information on instrument check-out and locker rentals will be emailed during the summer before Band Camp. Music for the upcoming season will also be emailed to members during the summer.