It’s a whole new look and direction for Sacramento State’s Marching Band this year. When they take the field Saturday, Sept. 29 for the Hornets’ football home opener against Northern Arizona, the musicians will have a new leader and new uniforms.
Tim Smith is the new man behind the baton. He spent 22 years as professor of music at Cal State East Bay, where he conducted the wind ensemble, taught conducting, music education and music literature, and was the director of East Bay’s symphony orchestra. He had been searching for work in the greater Sacramento area to be closer to his wife, who is director of choral and vocal music at Cosumnes River College.
“This is a huge coup for us,” says Ernie Hills, chair of Sacramento State’s Music department.
Smith was on a fast track to get in step with the program this summer, and he praised the commitment, loyalty and talent of graduate assistant Jorge Munoz, members of the band council and all the student musicians for pulling everything together. “They take on a tremendous amount of the responsibility and they work very hard to make things happen,” Smith says.
Student enthusiasm is running high too. “The season has been really promising,” clarinetist Tiffany Leber says. “People are learning stuff really fast so everything’s looking up.”
This year’s halftime program is built around themes from the musical West Side Story. Early shows will feature an opening drill and routine, then have the band play a few more songs in place. “As we get more and more time to practice, then we will add more and more movement,” Smith says.
Band members held a four-day summer camp, learning and practicing from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. They also practice three times during the week, and begin work at 8:30 a.m. on game day.
But a new leader isn’t the only thing that’s different for this year’s band—they have new uniforms, too, after wearing the old ones for more than 10 years. “They were wearing out,” Hills says.
The new threads have hit a high note with the musicians.
“They kind of resemble last year’s model, but they’re a lot easier to maintain,” Jonathan Fernand says.
Smith emphasizes that the band is just one component of the game day experience, playing the National Anthem and joining others for the team tunnel as the players take the field. “They are there not just to entertain, but to be part of an organization that provides a sense of collective spirit during an athletic event,” Smith says.
Marching bands have pretty much disappeared from televised college games, replaced by studio programs recapping scores from elsewhere. But Smith says that hasn’t dampened enthusiasm among students to participate in the band. “I think marching bands are as popular as they ever were and still an integral part of the game-day experience for fans.”
For more information on the University’s Music Department, call 278-5155.
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Sacramento State’s Craig Koscho can be reached at email@example.com
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