St. Ambrose drums up new marching band

While on my internship at the Quad City Times, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the St. Ambrose marching band. I also talked to instructors of the band to see what their plans were for the upcoming school year.

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By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin

University takes first step this fall with stadium band

Gabby Bauer will kick-start her fall academic semester earlier than many of her peers. The 19-year-old sophomore at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, will be heading to band camp before the semester officially opens, as part of her school’s new athletic bands program.

The 19-year-old sophomore at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, will be heading to band camp before the semester officially opens, as part of her school’s new athletic bands program.

This fall, St. Ambrose will be launching its first athletic marching band since the school was established in 1882.

“From the standpoint of our music department, they saw it as a way for us to expand and promote our music program,” said John Cooper, the university’s vice president for enrollment management. “From the athletic perspective, we felt the marching band would help promote our athletic programs and make those programs more enjoyable to experience.”

Bauer said she might play the flute for the marching band because it is her core instrument. She is also actively involved with her school’s symphonic and jazz bands.

“I don’t really know if this will be my busiest school year, but it will definitely be quite interesting to see how everything works itself out,” she said. “Between symphonic band and jazz band to performances and marching band, it will be nothing but music, and I couldn’t be any more excited.”

The athletic marching band was made possible by the school’s athletic bands program, which also offers scholarship opportunities for students.

With an award of up to $1,000, the scholarship is open to any students with previous band experiences regardless of their academic major, said Nicholas Enz, the director of bands at St. Ambrose.

“It’s kind of best of both worlds for students to come to St. Ambrose because they are after that personalized attention and education, while are still able to participate in a marching band. Because usually those two don’t go hand in hand because we’re a small school,” he said.

Enz said the new marching band will provide students with another opportunity to express themselves in a fun way, while embodying school spirit.

The band will start as a stadium band that will eventually grow into a full marching band by fall 2018.

A stadium band plays only in the stands, while a marching band plays both in the stands and marches a half-time show, said Megan Cooney, director of athletics band.

“We are not ready to march a half-time show yet, so instead we are playing in local community parades to practice our marching,” she said.

Cooney, who was recently appointed as director of the marching band, said as the director, her responsibility is to “coach” and manage the band.

This year, the band will be marching in the Rock Island Labor Day parade, the Davenport Halloween parade, the Festival of Trees parade, and the St. Patrick Day’s parade, Cooney said.

With 40 students already signed up for the new semester, Cooney said the band will begin practicing drills next year. Drills are formations a marching band makes during their on field show.

The color scheme of the marching band’s new uniform will be a mix of power blue on the top, and an all-black bottom to give members a popping look, Cooney said.

“The thing that’s so cool is that we get to build it the way that we want,” she said. “It’s almost like an artist when you have a blank canvass and you are given an unlimited amount of paint and a brush.”

Cooney said the band’s goal in the fall, is to “sound good while looking good”, adding that she hopes to make the athletic experience at St. Ambrose feel a lot more “at home”.

“When I think of college football, I always think of a band playing, and that has not necessarily been happening. My personal goal is to make athletic experiences at St. Ambrose feel a lot more traditional or at home,” she said.

Bauer said she has high hopes for the new marching band. She’s convinced that the band will make a huge impact.

“Everybody just needs to wait, because we’re gonna be big someday,” she said.


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