By Abbigal Laroy
With the overhead lights illuminating the turf, the student section is packed full of energized fans decked out head to toe in spirit wear and face paint. Bleacher seats are filled with opposing team fans. A Friday night football game only needs one final thing to pull the whole night together: an energetic marching band ready to cheer on their team. Marching band is easily one of the most important aspects of making a football game successful, but with Malone recently losing their team, many changes are on the way. David Mack is a freshman here at Malone, double majoring in music education and music ministry with the ambition of becoming a band director for middle and high school students. Mack has been in band for nine years and marched for Ellet High School in Akron, specializing in saxophone. As an incoming freshman, the transition of high school marching band to college band comes with a handful of challenges on its own. With an increased complexity in rhythms, notes, practice times and physical strain, Mack says the best way to handle the responsibility of being a band student is time management. “School is a full time job and practice is a part time job’’ Mack said. Despite these challenges, band is intrinsically rewarding for students
like David. “When I first experienced music, I fell in love. It gave me direction in school and got me through some really tough times. I want to create that same environment
in my own band room some day for students just like me.” These kinds of experiences are what make keeping a band program here at Malone so important. Dr. Otis French, the Director of Bands and Coordinator of Instrumental Music Studies here at Malone, is in his 35th year directing marching band, but is relatively new to Malone. Dr. French shared insight on what exactly is
up and coming with the marching band this year and the years to come. In the near future, the band is expected to play at least four band shows off campus, including two high school football games. Over the course of this year, the marching band is expected to play for somewhere between thirty to forty different high schools which gives the band an amazing opportunity for recruitment and outreach. On campus, however, the band will still be making plenty of appearances. Dr. French said that that the band has already committed to performing at least one volleyball game, and is currently in touch with the athletic department to work towards becoming more of a pep band while making more appearances at other sporting events such as basketball and soccer games. Although not having a football team is certainly challenging, Dr. French sees the loss as an opportunity for growth. Although the situation has been difficult, French says that no longer having a football team has, “freed us up to do a lot more off campus activities and start recruiting. It has given us an opportunity to reach lots of different people and allowed us to get out in the community more.” Faith is also a very important attribute to the band. Dr. French says that he prays for his band members and faculty every morning, and when they are tired or facing other challenges. He does the best he can to encourage them to fall back on God. Jason Wyse, the Associate Director of Bands and Director of Music Educator Preparation at Malone, is in his seventeenth year directing bands. He was encouraged to start a career in music because of his love for it and his desire to share the joy it brought him with others. Wyse mentioned that despite the challenges the band has faced this year, they are adjusting extremely well and are looking at the situation as an opportunity rather than a set back. Some unique aspects of Malone’s band in particular, according to Wyse, are “the emphasis on developing a sense of community, as well as the family aspect.” Both directors mentioned that a unique part of Malone’s band is the ability for Malone’s students to be involved in multiple activities, such as choir, concert band and other non-musical extracurricular activities on campus. Despite not having a football team, Wyse believes it is still crucial to keep a music program running. “Marching band is a fabric of the University,” said Wyse. “It brings a sense of community and identity, and is also great for character development.” Although losing the football team this year has been difficult for everyone, the marching band and their directors have taken this obstacle and have chosen to view it as an opportunity for growth and positivity.