|Big Red Marching Machine brings music, school spirit together|
|Written by Kirby Radomski, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 09 November 2009 21:08|
The beat of the drums and the red and white twirling flags captivate the audience as the band, color guard and dance team take formation and march onto the field.
The ISU marching band is known as “The Big Red Marching Machine” and many students have seen and heard the BRMM perform at home football games.
About 275 members make up the BRMM, which is composed of the drumline, the color guard, the Redline Express Dancers dance team and of course, the brass and woodwind players.
“The BRMM is approximately twice the size of any other marching band in the Missouri Valley Football Conference,” Dr. Daniel Belongia, director of the BRMM, said.
When it comes to performing in front of a large crowd, the BRMM knows what it takes to engage the audience in their music and entertainment.
“We try to program music that we think is fun to play and that we imagine a football fan would enjoy hearing. That’s the philosophy behind the programming of the music we play in the stands and at halftimes,” Belongia said.
“We try to participate in the game’s atmosphere in a way that is connected with the game. If we need a big defensive stand, we’ll play different types of tunes at different points between plays to keep the crowd involved and to help keep the team fired up,” he added.
When the BRMM takes the field at halftime, the members work hard to impress and engage their audience in the music they are playing and in the visual formations they create.
“The former director of the Marching Illini of the University of Illinois told us in a letter that he could not remember any time ever that a visiting band got a better response from the Illini crowd than we did. He said he thinks the BRMM is one of the finest college marching bands in America,” Belongia said.
Many students often ask Belongia if they have to be a music major to be a part of the BRMM, but he stresses that this is not the case.
“Literally half the band is not a music major. We represent majors from all around campus,” he said.
If students have a love for music, Belongia encourages them to check out the BRMM.
“It’s a good way to meet people with a similar interest. It’s a lot of fun. If you like to travel and if you want to meet a bunch of good people and play some music then BRMM is definitely the place for you,” Derek Boughey, an ISU alumnus and drumline instructor for the BRMM, said.
“I’ve had the chance to work with over 300 great and really dedicated students here at ISU. It’s been a very good couple of years. The band just keeps getting bigger and stronger,” he said.
Belongia added that the work ethic of those in the BRMM, both music majors and other majors, shows in their performances.
“We take anyone that is interested in being part of the BRMM. We are very lucky that we have some spectacular musicians, but we are also lucky that we have some folks that aren’t that experienced because they try their best and give it their all,” Belongia said.
Belongia’s life revolves around the BRMM, and he is proud to be the director of the group.
“I don’t know what life is like to be something other than the director of the Big Red. I consider myself a pretty lucky person because I love what I do and I get to work with who I consider to be some of the best young adults on campus,” Belongia said.
The BRMM allows students to meet new people and go through their years at ISU as part of a family.
“These kids are spending a minimum of at least six hours a week with each other performing and relying on each other, so it’s these positive connections they build that can transfer into the rest of their lives,” Boughey said.
“I hope being a part of the BRMM enhances their experience at ISU and makes their college experience to them more of a home than it would be without the Big Red,” Belongia added.
With the football season coming to an end, the members of the BRMM are hoping that the team makes it to the playoffs.
“We’re almost done here, all we’ve got left is the last football game on November 21. The team is doing well, and is in a position where if they win the next two games there’s a possibility we could make the playoffs. If the team makes the playoffs, hopefully the band will be part of that playoff experience,” Belongia said.