While Cal Poly has always been a trendsetter for hands-on education with its “learn by doing” motto, Mustang Marching Band’s approach to this mantra is to “learn by practicing.”
If you have passed by Grand Avenue on a late Tuesday afternoon, you might hear some of the weekly rehearsals of the “Pride of the Pacific” Mustang Marching Band. After nearly 18 months of quiet classrooms and solitary sidewalks, Cal Poly’s campus is bursting with sound again. The marching band has reconvened this year to prepare for the return of in-person sporting events and performances.
In Aug., the marching band spent two weeks at camp learning how to march and play together; and in Sept., they continued practicing on Doerr field with their focus geared toward field drill and fresh pep tunes for football halftime shows.
Now halfway through the quarter and rounding out the marching season for the year, Mustang Band is reclaiming its position as an essential part of campus life. Pep events like volleyball and basketball games, gigs downtown, and performances at the PAC such as the annual Bandfest give the group opportunities to improve their connection with fellow peers and the San Luis Obispo community. Since the band lost out on all in-person performances last year, occasions this year to interact with the public have been especially rewarding.
The year of isolation has not been all bad, however. The fact that two classes of members are unfamiliar with traditions has enabled the team to reinvent Mustang Band culture and show up with original vigor. The high energy dance moves that are associated with Mustang Band’s reputation have been revised to better showcase section-specific chaos and uniform commands. For example, it would be commonplace to see some of the band suddenly start making airplane sounds with arms outstretched, with others jumping around the parade block shooting imaginary basketball hoops. This contrast compliments the band’s overall values: having fun together while still delivering an intricate performance.
To further transform their powerful sound, the Associate Director of Bands, Dr. Nick Waldron, made the executive decision to significantly condense the pep tune folder. The new song selections cover hits spanning generations and genres of music. It is no easy feat to cherry-pick tunes that simultaneously resonate with students as well as musicians, but this list aims to do just that. The folder contains tunes for all music tastes, such as heavy metal headbangers, sing-along pop songs and sensational throwbacks. Coupled with the band’s enthusiasm and musicianship, this makes for a spectacular performance that can rally up the crowd.
Check out Mustang Band in action before the quarter is over. The band will be performing at the football game on Saturday, November 20th.