The kickoff game between Temple and Villanova on Aug. 31 signified more than the football team’s first game of the season — it marked the school’s first season in which it returns to the Big East. But apart from the uniformed players, others have noticed a change in tone while performing on the field — namely, the marching band.
Grace Holleran, a sophomore and trumpet player in the band for the past two years, has noticed a significant change between practices last season and this season.
“The students all seem a lot more focused, but I’ve noticed a difference in the leadership,” Holleran said. “They expect a lot more out of us, and we give it to them. It’s more serious.”
“I feel like there’s a better sense of community,” she added. “We’re getting a lot more done a lot faster.”
Holleran, a music therapy major, said the band learned an entirely new field show in just three practices, which is especially notable considering the band is the biggest it has been in about 87 years.
“Last year’s band wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Holleran said. “That was the biggest proof that there’s bigger energy and focus,” she said.
Part of the secret underlies in the leadership. Senior Alex Gonzalez, one of three drum majors, expressed passion and faith in the performers behind him.
“Being in the Big East brings a whole new level of intensity and focus, and a whole new level of skills to the band and ideas of how we’re going to develop in the future,” he said. “Now Temple has a mentality that we are an amazing football school, so we want to be an amazing band to an amazing team.”
Gonzalez, an applied math and Spanish double major, said he has held band close to his heart his entire life. His father convinced him to learn to play the clarinet in elementary school, and it has taken him a long way.
Temple’s music performance program has been entertaining its audiences for about 90 years. And freshmen will notice a complete change of style from high school band to band on a collegiate level. They will have gone from training for competitions and judged performances, to a more fun, entertaining mentality.
Now, band is completely devout about pumping up the crowds, and instilling some of that extra school spirit seen broadcasted so often on ESPN. This comes from heavy practice, adding up to six hours a week.
Gonzalez attributes the harder practices and new level of intensity to band director Matthew Brunner, who he claims has a larger understanding of what is happening to the university. Upon declaring the new drum majors, Brunner sat the three down, asking them what they wanted to do. Their opinions mattered, Gonzalez said.
Brunner has been the director of the band for the past four years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and a graduate degree in instrumental conducting from Ohio University. He also earned his Doctor of Music in wind conducting at Indiana University.
Gonzalez said for the first time in his five-year involvement with the band, the group sings Temple’s alma mater in its entirety. For a moment, they put aside the cheers and recognize the pride they have for the school. Brunner wants to go back to a style of tradition, while maintaining a level of excitement, Gonzalez said.
“He’s done such a great job of fine-tuning how [great] the band is and how excellent they are that year,” Gonzalez said.
All the band’s performances will now be televised, requiring more effort at practice.
“What we’re pushing is sound, look and quality. Especially now [that] we have all these eyes on us,” Gonzalez said.
And although Gonzalez attributes this greater sense of community toward being in the Big East, he recognizes that the activity has stepped up in popularity throughout the recent years.
“In years past, we hadn’t had the best retention rate, and now band is something people want to come to and look forward to and make better,” Gonzalez said. “To be honest, being a drum major and knowing that kind of band is behind you is rewarding. To know that they’re ready to work, and create something wonderful, is great.”
Patricia Madej can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.