This Sunday, the Rocket Marching Band has another football team to support. This time they won’t be cheering on the Rockets. Instead, they will be performing for the Indianapolis Colts as they take on the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 25.
This is the first time in a decade that the RMB will perform the half-time show at a national football game.
“I think it is so cool that we’re going to be actually performing at an NFL game,” said Delaney Carnes, a second-year majoring in psychology and a piccolo player in the RMB. “It’s such a big deal. I never thought I would have that opportunity being in a college band.”
The Glass Bowl can seat up to 25,000 people, but in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, that number is almost tripled. It’ll be one of the largest crowds these students have ever performed for.
“The Colts game makes me so nervous, but I’m so excited,” said Ashley Brogan, one of the RMB’s feature twirlers and a first-year double majoring in psychology and criminal justice. “It’s like butterflies in your stomach. You’re pumped for it, but nervous at the same time.”
The band is comprised of UT students with a wide variety of majors and backgrounds. Engineering, pharmacy and nursing students represent a large number of the RMB, according to the RMB website. The RMB also includes color and auxiliary guards, twirlers and the Dancing Rockettes, a group of dancers that are featured with the marching band.
“Just like people on campus in Greek Life have their sisters, I think I have that close bond with them,” said Jenna Lundy, a third-year Rockette majoring in communication. “We see each other every day and every weekend, more than I need or want to, but we’re all friends and there’s never any drama.”
Just as the UT football team was catapulted to national attention last season with their win in the GoDaddy bowl and this season’s great success, band members say the community is more aware of the RMB than ever.
Jake Cassidy, who has been one of the RMB’s drum majors for three years, said one way the RMB has been interacting with the community is through the pop-up pep rallies. The pep rallies, which take place at a few downtown Toledo restaurants, were the idea of some of the business owners who remember similar events taking place a few years ago.
“I was totally surprised by the support we got,” Cassidy said. “Every time we go into the bars, the people are hyped up and clapping. They’re getting into it and they’re having a good time.”
The 220-member marching band is one of the largest in the university’s history and is orchestrated by Andrew Rhodes, assistant director of bands and the director of athletic bands.
“It’s been a really good year and last year was very strong as well,” Rhodes said. “We like to continue on where we left off.”
Jessica Butler, a first-year majoring in criminal justice who plays the clarinet, had high remarks for her band instructor. Butler said Rhodes lets them have their fun, but when there is something he sees that needs to be fixed, the students are determined to correct it.
“He is awesome,” Butler said. “Mr. Rhodes is the best band instructor I’ve ever had.”
In addition to their halftime performance for the Colts, the RMB will take on a new venture as they travel to Indianapolis, Ind. On Oct. 25, they will conduct an exhibition performance for high school bands at the Bands of America Super Regional. Kathryn Reinhardt is the market coordinator at Music For All, a non-profit organization and one of the most influential national music education organizations, according to Reinhardt.
“Music for All’s mission is to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all,”
Reinhardt wrote in an email interview. “As an educator, I have witnessed the Bands of America Championships have a positive impact on how band is taught in our Nation’s schools.”
Sixty-four bands will be performing at the competition from eight different states — Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee. More than 85,000 high school students participate each year in services that Music for All provides, according to Reinhardt.
“It’s really exciting to be around the BoA bands, because I know a lot of them are at a very high level, musically,” said Dylan Cramer, a trumpeter and second-year senior majoring in music education. “I love seeing them perform and showing them what we can do.”
The band will be performing their Earth, Wind and Firebird show, which puts their musical and performance abilities on display. It’s a harder set for them to perform and it’s something the band has been working hard to achieve, said Adam Miller, a fourth-year music education major and one of the RMB’s drum majors.
“I want the school to be more proud of the Rocket Marching Band,” Cramer said. “I know a lot of bigger schools are so excited about their marching bands and show them off. I want the Toledo community to say, ‘This is our band,’ and to be proud of it. And it’s starting to happen.”