Football games are known for being noisy. Refs blow their shrill whistles, the crowd roars its praise or displeasure, and the sound of the players’ helmets knocking into each other can be heard all the way across the field.
Another sound starts off faint — a steady drum beat at halftime to lead the Big Red Marching Machine onto the field. As the ISU marching band takes the field and stands with instruments and flags poised, ready to begin, it’s important to understand how much hard work was put into the show they are about to perform.
Philip Obado is the associate director of bands at ISU, and the director of the BRMM. This is his first year at ISU.
“Instead of doing just one show this year, we are learning five,” Obado said. “They change each game, and this Saturday we will be doing a VIP Request show with songs requested by three very special guests.”
The three well-known ISU guests have requested songs they would like to be heard at the half- time show, and there will be a video that plays, showing each of the individuals welcoming everyone to the new stadium.
It’s common to hear the steady thumping of the drumline coming from the distance while walking across the Quad on the days the band is practicing.
“The group practices for these shows [are] three days a week for two hours,” Obado said. “A lot of work goes into the show behind the scenes as well, because every student has to practice on their own time too.”
The band doesn’t just practice the one halftime show. There are multiple performances for the first game on Saturday alone.
“There is a pregame show, the halftime show, tunes we play in the stands and a postgame show. So you’re talking about five or six pots boiling for just this Saturday alone,” Obado said.
Though Obado is new at directing the BRMM, he is already extremely proud of the band members and their hard work.
“My proudest moment so far has been standing in front of an ensemble of 270 students who understand what they are a part of,” he said. “They understand that they are a part of history, and they are a part of tradition and pride at ISU.”
Scott Whitman is a senior music education major who plays mellophone. This is his sixth and final year in marching band.
“In my time here in the BRMM, I have played during the Bears halftime show at Soldier Field twice,” Whitman said. “And those were definitely highlights of my marching band career.”
Whitman would like audience members to enjoy the show and pay attention to the details and effort put into it.
“When watching the drill movements, I think it’s important for people to recognize that the drill was written by senior music education and composition major Zach Hilligoss,” Whitman said.
Sara Reis is also a senior music education major who plays piccolo in the marching band. On top of weekly practices, homework and school, Reis still loves being a part of the band, no matter how much work it takes.
“The effect a marching band can have on an audience is huge. Seeing the joy you bring to people through music is very rewarding,” she said. “There is nothing I love more than performing with this great group of people.”
Instead of using the break at halftime to hop up for a bathroom break or run to the concession stand, sit back, enjoy the show, and notice the hard work the band has put into the performance.
“I would like the audience to notice all of the intricacy that is going on during the show,” Reis said. “We all put in so much time, effort and skill into perfecting a show that will only be performed once.”