Before putting on a uniform or playing at a football game, rookies seeking to join the Marching Virginians must first learn how to maintain a formation. During the week leading up to classes, aspiring band members demonstrate their musical talent and marching prowess to the leaders of their prospective sections. An unwavering and intense enthusiasm is the third key ingredient to becoming a Marching Virginian.For a local angle on this topic, read The Beat Goes On, which is about the Michigan State Marching Band's band camp. The photos alone are worth surfing over there.
It happens every year. Each August, all 300 members of the Spartan Marching Band assemble on the MSU campus for what is known as “Preseason.”MSU's preseason practices were so intense, the UCLA Band, which I marched in, knew about them during the 1970s and 1980s.
The annual 10 days of preparation and practice—equal parts band camp and boot camp—are a respected and well-loved experience and tradition, much like the band itself, which is one of the nation’s premier college marching bands.
Under the expert eye of director John T. Madden, seasoned veterans set a high bar for new members who are welcomed into the ranks. Together they perfect and polish marching formations and music for the season ahead, enduring long days that often bring soaring temperatures and falling rain—and having the time of their lives.
It all leads to that glorious moment when they march onto the field in Spartan Stadium—a seamless stream of green and white and flashing instruments—to captivate an audience of more than 70,000 fans. It’s a moment that never ceases to thrill, season after season, as the beat goes on.
And that's it for these rituals of fall.