‘Countless hours go into this’

The WSU Marching Band practices their routines five days each week and six hours on game day


OLIVER MCKENNA | The Daily Evergreen

Drum major Tommy Hill leads a chant during the WSU vs. Boise State University (BSU) football game Saturday at Martin Stadium. The band played “Bohemian Rhapsody” during their halftime performance in collaboration with BSU.

MARIAH INMAN, Evergreen reporter

Home game day preparation for the WSU Marching Band means five straight weeks of learning halftime shows.

The process of memorizing music, learning the drill and cleaning up the formations is prepped two weeks before the football games, drum major Nichole Chambers said.

“Countless hours go into this 12-minute performance,” she said.

The marching band practices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the football games, trumpet section leader Clayton Brester said.

“We’ll do two hour rehearsals, each one of those days, usually 10 hours a week,” he said. “It gets easier over time. The more that you memorize music, the easier it becomes.”

Brester said that three years ago the marching band experienced game days every week, just as they are experiencing now.

“It’s a lot of compressed material to get in in that time, and so it’s just kind of a thing we have to work through,” Brester said. “It’s not overbearing as long as we’re focused.”

Chambers found that the short time frame makes the band directors opt for simpler music and less complicated drill formations, she said.

“We’ve done pretty well, the way that we’ve lined up our shows so that we’re not doing a different show every week … we’ve simplified the drill,” Chambers said. “The drill is much simpler than it would normally be if we had two or three weeks to work on it.”

Chambers said that the music for halftime may be recycled again in order to make it easier for band students to have enough time to memorize the music and learn the drills. They rehearse for six hours prior to kick off.

“Our directors are very much aware of how time consuming it is, but they do a good job of making sure that we have enough time and that we’re set up for success,” she said.

Even though the music is simpler, Chambers said that the music is relatable and fun for the band to perform.

The marching band performed the 1992 songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Life is a Highway” on Saturday in collaboration with Boise State University Marching Band.

A common collaboration partner for the marching band is the color guard, who tend to spend more hours than the band members practicing choreography and drill performances, Chambers said.

“They have to learn choreography and most times, they stay after we leave,” she said, “because dance choreography you need more practice.”

The color guard feature twirler, Valea Higheagle, also spends copious amounts of time to learn her own choreography for the halftime shows, Chambers said.

“I don’t know the extent of her outside of rehearsal time, but it’s a lot of extra practice and learning of her own routines,” Chambers said. “She kind of does her own thing, but she is important.”

The marching band will perform their next halftime show Saturday when the WSU football team plays Oregon State University.