MARQUETTE - They spent four years marching in the Marquette Senior High School red and black uniforms, and clearly that wasn't enough.
Currently, four former MSHS Marching Band members are continuing to perform in the University of Michigan Marching Band, which means a lot of work - and a lot of fun.
Now students at U of M, MSHS grads Aimee Cairati, Ben Seavoy, Matt Nyquist and Craig Belpedio continue to balance their regular class work with daily rehearsals and regular performances.
U of M marching band members perform the band’s pregame show. (Photo courtesy of Matt Nyquist)
"The Michigan Marching Band was actually one of the reasons I decided on U of M. I knew I wanted to do marching band in college and if I was going to be in a marching band, I wanted to be a part of an elite band," Nyquist, 21, a senior history major and mellophone player, said.
For students involved in the marching band, the fall school semester begins mid-August with almost two weeks of band camp - an intense series of rehearsals to introduce new band members to the group's marching style and to help returning members refresh from the previous season.
Band camp is also a chance to begin learning the first show of the season.
"We do new shows for almost every game," said Belpedio, 20, a junior computer science major who plays euphonium in the band. "We practice every weekday for an hour and a half, plus each section is required to hold a weekly sectional to practice music."
With seven or eight shows to learn each season, the band occasionally only has five days to put a show together when there are back-to-back home games.
Besides a playing audition to get into the band, the members also participate in weekly challenges to earn a place in the marching block for the halftime show.
"In any given week, it is possible for someone to make or get booted from the halftime block," Nyquist said.
And that's all to get them ready for performances.
"The performances are intense," Belpedio said. "It takes a lot of physical stamina to do our pregame show, more than I'd been used to for high school."
Cairati, 22, a senior double major in French and linguistics, agreed. Cairati plays euphonium in the band.
"If you can make it through the Michigan Marching Band training program, you can do anything," she said.
For the halftime show, the entire band is required to not only memorize their marching positions, but all of their music as well.
"We're required to have our music memorized, so you're remembering where to go on the next move, where the next move is in the music and what the music actually is," Belpedio said. "It takes a lot of mental concentration. In the end though, when you charge out of the tunnel doing entries for pregame or step onto the field for halftime and the 113,000 fans packed into the Big House explode and scream for the Michigan Marching Band, it's all worth it."
The MSHS grads credit the beginning of their enthusiasm for marching to their experience in the highschool marching band with teacher Matt Ludwig.
"The high school marching experience was fantastic. It was enough of a challenge to make us feel like we accomplished something and yet Dr. Ludwig made practice fun enough to make me want to come back every day," Belpedio said.
Seavoy, 21, a trumpet player, agreed.
"Before I started highschool, I thought marching band sounded like the nerdiest thing I could possibly do," the senior industrial operations engineering major said. "When I actually started marching, I found that I loved it. I made a number of great friends that I still have today."
Nyquist, Belpedio and the others are also taking after Ludwig just by being in the U of M band.
"It's a huge deal for me," Ludwig said. "I spent my entire college undergraduate career as a member of the U of M marching band, so I know how wonderful it is to be part of that organization.
"First, it's gratifying to know that my former students have a good enough musical foundation to audition, compete and get into the group. Second, on a more selfish note, I love the fact that they are following in my footsteps."
So whether they're playing a tribute to Lady Gaga or showcasing the music of the Wizard of Oz (both shows which have been performed this year), continuing with marching band has been well worth it.
"Being in the Michigan Marching Band has been by far the best experience I've had in college," Nyquist said. "Being a part of a group that works day in and day out to entertain our fans and support Michigan football has been extremely rewarding.
"From day one, I had over 300 people with whom I shared a bond and who I consider friends."
"In the Michigan Marching Band, I've found my niche in college life," she said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.