The Utah State University Aggie Marching Band, or AMB, has had another successful year as the marching and football seasons come to a close. The energy and excitement, brought to thousands of fans in new ways this season, will be remembered for years to come.
“They put a lot of passion, a lot of heart and a lot of soul into what they do,” said Lane Weaver, director of athletic bands at Utah State University. Weaver, an Aggie alumnus, has been the director for three years now.
Football games at any university would not be the same without the bands. Even without noticing it, the energy in the stadium often comes from the band.
“We are a part of the college football experience. The games would not be the same without the Aggie Marching Band playing ‘The Scotsman’ and the fight song,” said Anthony Mills, a first year marcher this season.
“The Scotsman” is a staple at every Utah State sporting event, and Aggie students are famous for the simple choreographed performance while it is being played. But for the AMB members, this event is far greater.
“My favorite part of being in the Aggie Marching Band is actually on game day when we’re doing the pregame, and we turn around and do the Scotsman, and you see everybody just put their hands up and do the first move,” Braden Smart, a marcher said. “I’ve been up here for six years, and I don’t think I’ve ever not had chills watching the students do the Scotsman with us and sing while we’re playing.”
During this 2019 season, the weather did not always cooperate. But no matter if there’s snow, rain, wind or freezing temperatures, the band will always stick with the football team until the very end of the game.
“To do it in outside circumstances that aren’t always ideal, that takes a lot of character,” Weaver said.
This year, the rain poured down during the homecoming parade and game, but the band continued to play. The last two games brought freezing temperatures. Instruments do not cooperate well in extreme temperatures, but the band played on. Marching band is not all glory, it is not only the halftime shows and bringing pep to the Hurd and the stadiums.
“Marching band is hard work,” Weaver said.
Every day, each member of the AMB work to memorize a new show, to learn their charts, to rely on the band members around them and to work together with their section and the band as a whole.
“The Aggie Marching Band is a family and we really do care about each other,” Mills said.
Marching band is hard work, but enjoying what they do and enjoying each other’s company helps the process seem easier. Band can change a person’s life. It gives each student a place to belong, according to Mills.
The preparation for the season’s halftime shows begins months in advance. Weaver writes the field charting and music himself because it’s easier to write to the abilities of the band and create shows the band will excel with. Before school begins in August, the band meets together for a week of 12-hour days, also known as band camp. After school is in session, the band does not have much practice time, which is even more impressive when they are learning a new halftime show every week.
When learning a new show, the band will march each field position without music, often singing their individual parts instead. Once the field positions have been completed, the instruments join the musicians.
“It’s basically just repetition, we do it over and over again. … We find something we’re doing wrong or we’re not doing as well and we make it better,” Mills said.
Being a part of the AMB provides the students with many experiences. They are able to travel to different states and universities for games, giving them a chance to explore the world. “I feel like it’s a good experience to … march and play it all,” said Jules Colombel, a freshman marcher.
The AMB has had phenomenal growth over the past three years alone. In 2016 there were 90 members, and now in 2019, there are 170 marchers.
“We get people that come from a really strong musical background,” Weaver said. “We get people who have had music lessons all their life. We get people who maybe came from a really small band program someplace in a rural area and never marched before and never been in a full-sized group before.”
The AMB is a combination of many students of different majors, backgrounds, and skill levels. Together, the band works hard to bring energy and entertainment to the games.
This season’s 2019 halftime shows included titles from Cascada, Toto, Green Day, Muse, the Killers, Queen and many more well-known artists. When the fans and students recognize which song the band is performing, the fan interaction level rises.
This year, the band played Africa by Toto during one halftime, during which they formed the outline of the continent of Africa. The fans erupted when the band put the song and charting together.
“It’s one of the best decisions I made up here, deciding to join the AMB,” Mills said.