October 18, 2003
Tulane's newly formed marching band made its debut at last Saturday's Homecoming football game against Houston, ending Tulane's status as the only Division I-A school without a band.
While Tulane has had a pep band, Soundwave, which has played at basketball games for more than a decade, this year marks the first time Tulane has fielded a marching band since 1975.
Their first performance consisted of a short pre-game show, during which the band played Tulane's fight song, and a performance immediately following the game. The band also marched in the Homecoming parade before the game.
The pre-game show consisted of the members forming a "T," then marching so that the "T," could be seen from the opposite side of the field, with the column in the middle remaining stationary. The marching band, which is the brainchild of graduate student and drum major Ryan Guillory, began as an idea late last April, but real work in forming the band did not begin until later. Over the summer, he e-mailed the entire student body with his plan.
"It's something I have always wanted to do, and it's something that was missing here," Guillory said. Currently, the band has about 55 members. The band, known as "The Tulane University Marching Band-'The Spirit of New Orleans,' brought to you by Soundwave," began practicing together at the beginning of the school year, and has had to organize itself in a short period of time. While most college marching bands practice five days a week and play together year-round, the marching band has only been practicing together twice a week for about two months.
The musicians that form the band are a mix of Tulane students, faculty and alumni, along with some members who have no affiliation to the University. "I thought it was foolish to pass on musicians who wanted to play with us," Guillory said. Their Music Director Jimmie Reamy, is associated with the University of New Orleans, but was excited enough at the prospect of a Tulane marching band, to join.
Since its beginnings in June, the band has enjoyed great support both from within the Tulane community and abroad. Donations, largely from alumni, have helped Soundwave raise about $27,000, and fans often express gratitude to the band.
"The support has been overwhelming," Guillory said. "At the parade, some of the spectators told me they had tears in their eyes when they saw the band."
The band will finish out the football season by playing the final two home games, putting on its first-ever full halftime show. However, Guillory's sight remains set on the future. Since there are few senior members, Guillory wants this year's band to form a core group that can be built upon in coming years.
There is also the possibility that the marching band will be made into a class, making it more practical for potential members to join. Guillory wants the band to someday compete successfully with other college marching bands, which is what he has envisioned from the beginning.
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