Marching band to practice on new field

Students in the Falcon Marching Band will be rehearsing on new and improved practice fields this year, due to the construction of the Stroh Center.

The old practice fields (three in all, located north of Lot 12) will soon be parking lots, as the Stroh Center’s footprint covers student parking that needs to be replaced, said Richard Kennell, dean of the College of Musical Arts.

To make up for the band’s loss, two new fields are being built just west of Perry Field House. The band will start rehearsals there in August.

‘When Dean Kennell first heard of the plan to build parking lots where our current three practice fields are located, he immediately contacted the people in charge of the planning to be sure that the needs of the band were included in the plans,’ said Carol Hayward, director of the marching band and assistant professor of music education, in an e-mail.

Hayward said Kennell made sure the needs of the band were known, as marching band is a class and the practice fields constitute a classroom.

‘The Dean and I met with representatives of Capital Planning and worked out an arrangement which will be suitable for everyone and should improve practice conditions for the band,’ Hayward said.

The old practice fields were not the best for marching, according to Hayward and Colin Studer, a junior and a squad leader for the band’s trumpet section.

‘The current fields … were located in one of the lowest spots on campus, so we often had to deal with standing water,’ Hayward said. ‘The grounds department has given the area some extra attention over the last three years, but with the resources available, the area was still rough and was not level.’

Studer said the band sometimes had to march in wet, muddy conditions, and some students twisted their ankles on the rough ground.

‘We’ve had people twist their ankles in holes and whatnot in the old fields,’ Studer said, adding that it didn’t happen frequently and students just had to be careful.

Hayward said there hasn’t been any major field-induced injuries, but precautions, such as keeping holes filled, were taken.

Cassie Douglas, the section leader for the euphoniums, said the rough terrain was partially caused by lots of marching feet.

‘When you have 220 people marching in the same spots every year, you can’t really do much to stop holes and mini craters from forming,’ Douglas said. ‘Usually, if anybody ever got hurt, it was due to ‘hellip; wrestling on the field and running across it, not looking where you were going.’

‘Ideally, the replacement fields ‘hellip; actually could be better,’ Kennell said.

Kennell said progress is being made every day on the fields, and Hayward said they have been ‘graded, crowned for drainage, and include irrigation.’

Hayward said the band won’t have as much practice space as it did before since there will be two fields instead of three, but the surface should be better for marching.

‘This is very important for the well-being of our students in protecting them from injuries,’ she said.

Douglas said she thought the only time the band might be affected by the loss of a field is during ‘fundies week,’ or fundamentals week, when the band splits into sections to practice.

Amanda Werner, a fourth year student and the head twirler for this coming year, said the group usually just used two fields during the season, and she didn’t think the group would be affected by the loss of one field.

‘Normally, we only would switch between the two. Every other day we ‘hellip; [went] back and forth so that the marching wouldn’t make the ground too bumpy from standing on it constantly,’ Werner said.

Hayward said the band will need to rotate its practice direction more often so it doesn’t wear out certain areas of grass.

Hayward and Kennell’s concerns were that the band would have enough space, that the marching surface would be improved, and that the new fields wouldn’t be any farther from the band’s equipment in the College of Musical Arts.

Along with the improved surface conditions and enough space for two fields, Hayward said the distance between the College of Musical Arts and the practice fields ‘has not been increased, therefore not taking away from valuable class time to get there.’

‘It is an exciting time for the Falcon Marching Band,’ Hayward said.