September 6, 2003
There's nothing like the sound of a marching band performing a half-time show underneath a crisp and blue autumn sky. Nothing indeed. Especially at Tulane. Where autumn doesn't turn crisp until, maybe, December, the sky is often a domed ceiling, and there hasn't been a marching band to speak of. Until now.
With any luck, Soundwave, Tulane's pep band, will this fall swell its ranks to the point where it will be able to take to the field at Tad Gormley Stadium for Homecoming on Oct. 11 and other Greenwave home games.
"We've been having a lot of interest and excitement," says Toby Morriss, a program coordinator of undergraduate studies in the engineering school and a member of Soundwave.
Morriss, who plays French horn, also is a graduate student studying photography in the art department. The band, which was formed in 1988 and has become a familiar fixture at Fogelman Arena for men's and women's basketball games and on the sidelines during football games, is a student-run organization whose membership has hovered around the 30-person mark.
To raise membership to a number that would be sufficient to march at halftimes or along parade routes (roughly 100 members) Soundwave has issued a call to arms directed not only to students but also faculty and staff.
"We're hopeing to create a real collegiate marching band," says Soundwave president Ryan Guillory, a grad student in the history department. According to Guillory, Tulane is the only Division I-A school without a marching band. The first practice has already taken place on Aug. 31, but Morriss says Soundwave will eagerly take latecomers. Soundwave's repertoire ranges from the essential (the fight song, alma mater, National Anthem) to the retro ("Born to be Wild," "Disco Inferno," "25 or 6 to 4") to the downright odd ("Rubber Duckie," "Mr. Roboto").
In the past, the only non-student band member has been Jack Grubbs, associate dean of engineering, who has contributed his trombone to the effort for the last four years. Grubbs gives his playing a B+, but admits he grades on a curve.
"I get 87 percent of the notes right," he quips. More seriously, Grubbs says he's found the experience to be rewarding. "I enjoy music and I love the kids," he says, noting that the students seem to like his company. Jonathen Banks, a research assistant at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research, is among recent recruits to Soundwave.
Banks, who began playing the baritone in his highschool band, says that it is a love for music that piqued his interest in the pep band. "I would like to get back into playing again," he says. "I feel that anyone who can contribute to Soundwave should join." Grubbs agrees. "We owe it to the athletics teams. You talk about loyalty we ought to be supporting the players every place we can."
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