Away from the spotlight, the band members still often move as a group, hanging around campus together. At 85 members strong, the club considers itself a tight-knit family.
The Pep Band plays at all home football games and you’ll see them in their designated bleacher section for all men’s and women’s home basketball games. In the late spring, they bring music and movement to the parade on campus during Alumni Weekend.
WPI’s Pep Band is an entirely student-run club, with only one hired “drill writer” to choreograph the routines. They practice hard and with intensity, but moving in formation is a thrill they all love. And representing WPI (with new uniforms, as well) as a pep band that also includes a color guard is exciting.
Just about all Pep Band members play an instrument when they arrive as WPI freshmen, but many haven’t ever been part of a marching band and have no experience playing on the move. Rachel Prescott ’16, a biochemistry major with a minor in music, says her high school never had a marching band, but she knew she’d love to join. Pep Band president Kelsie Lazaro ’16, a civil engineering major with a minor in music, looked for a good music program, and found a great fit at WPI because of the Pep Band.
With three to four 3-hour rehearsals a week, band members are together a lot. “The band is really a family, and we collaborate together,” says Lazaro, who noted that last year the club was named Club Sport of the Year on campus.
WPI’s Pep Band is an entirely student-run club
Dan Murray was elected drum major of the Pep Band last year, and his duties included hours of teaching everyone the drill moves for the shows. “I love the community definitely,” he says of being in Pep Band, “but, honestly, it’s just really cool.” Because it’s student-run, we are all working with the same focus in mind. “It’s really all about the students,” Murray says, noting that he could spend an hour or two telling someone who is interested in Pep Band how much he loves it. “It’s a fantastic group dynamic and we really are like a family,” he says. “I’ve had great experiences and made great friends.”
Marching in time while playing an instrument isn’t easy, but it is fun, says Prescott. “It’s nerve wracking, but it’s really a blast,” she says. “You want to go out and do it again.” Between running across the field and finding your spot while hitting the right notes, band members are worn out at the end of a show. “It surprised me that I could actually do it,” says Prescott. “I didn’t know the first thing about marching.”
Lazaro, who was a drum major in high school and marched competitively, likes to welcome other band members into the group. The club holds a band camp a week before New Student Orientation, he says. “It’s a great time for band members to reconnect and for them to show the new band members the ropes.”
Each year the Pep Band learns one routine with three theme-based songs, so the total halftime show is about 10 minutes long. Last year’s theme was “Star Trek Through Many Generations” and the previous year it was “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The band is in the process of picking the theme for next year, which is done very democratically. They narrow down the choices to the top four and then cast a vote. And this year’s selection might even include a program written by a student.
The first three terms are pretty busy for the Pep Band, but the quieter D-Term is when they work on budget and other administrative issues. Prescott, who is in charge of recruitment, wants anyone interested in playing in the Pep Band to know this: “We would love to have you!”
BY JULIA QUINN-SZCESUIL
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