A Love Letter to College Marching Band

Dear Golden Buffalo Marching Band,

It is no secret that any first-year CU Boulder student who lives on Farrand Field, or anywhere else, can be found complaining from August to November about the band practicing at the most inconvenient times. In my freshman year dorm (the glory that is Cheyenne Arapaho Hall), it seemed I could never get away from the moans and groans of my hallmates on Saturday morning. 

I went to a high school where the marching band reigned supreme. No, definitely not in cool factor, but their repeated success with state championships and invitations to prestigious parades around the world could not be disputed. In the choir room where I frequented, I shared a wall with the band room, and our pit for school musicals was made up of band and orchestra students. I grew to immensely respect the 200+ students that committed their lives to this art (no, it’s not a sport, but incredibly hard work nonetheless).

My respect and admiration for the marching band continued into my freshman year when I was not surprised to find another place of learning where rowdy football fans talked over the band’s halftime performance, and yes, complained about their practices no matter the time of day. I quickly gave up trying to quiet my friends to hear the halftime show or getting them to stop and listen during practice. However, I will never stop acknowledging the extreme talent, dedication, and discipline it takes to be a part of a marching band.

Personally, the sounds of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band defined my freshman year. As mentioned, I was in musicals in high school, which made me lowest on the totem pole when talking to new friends about what their “thing” was in high school. I found myself surrounded by athletes and sharp-minded business students, a far cry from the musicians and artists of the music school that I was used to. I was lost and worried I made the wrong choice with my major, dorm, and group of friends. 

Although I didn’t choose to major in theatre, music, or any sort of art, I was never too far removed from my musical theatre roots. The 2018-19 music season dedicated to the music of Leonard Bernstein provided me with a familiar and calming soundtrack for my first semester away from home. I could quickly be transported to the dance hall of the Jets and the Sharks and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that someone on campus appreciated my love for musicals. Although none of my new hallmates had any idea why I insisted on stopping for just a second to hear “Mambo,” it became extremely important to me to hear those familiar melodies every day. 

Beyond that, the horns and drumline outside my dorm every day is something that immediately comes to mind when I think of my amazing first semester in Boulder. No matter where you are on campus, you can hear the sounds of the band warming up or hyping up students for another fall game day. It’s hard to imagine a football game without drum cadences and fight songs, let alone a whole season.

When the PAC-12 announced the cancellation of their season, I thought less about the games and the football players and more about the fact that the eager Class of 2024 wouldn’t have the Golden Buffalo Marching Band as their backdrop to treks to the dining hall, early (or late) mornings, or Saturday game days. It saddens me immensely to know that freshmen are going to have a quiet first semester, with little hustle and bustle between classes, minimal clanking noises in the dining halls, or uncrowded late night walks to The Hill. Most of all, they will not experience the thunderous sound of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band and all that it represents. 

Even if Ralphie doesn’t run and the Buffs aren’t scoring touchdowns, a socially-distant fight song from Farrand means more now than ever, and we need the marching band to lead the way. 

March on and HXCO,

Maeve Reilly