Sometimes they seem to go unnoticed–but they are always there, at every home football game in the fall. In the winter, they are cheering at the boys’ and girls’ basketball games, causing the Great Hall to resonate with the tunes of “Soul Man” and “Smoke on the Water.” They are there at the closing Advent Mass, leading the students and faculty in a Christmas sing-a-long. They were there at our first pepfest freshman year, and they will be there at the end, with “Pomp and Circumstance.” They are the very heart of school spirit. They are the BSM band.
The society that makes up band is truly like no other, and to get a feel for the true spirit of band, one must talk to the seniors. While freshmen talk about band very shyly if at all, just the mentioning that there was going to be a news story about band caused three seniors to erupt in cheering.
Kirby Ahlm, Joe Kramer, and Marissa Schuh have all been in the BSM band since seventh grade, and it is clear that they have loved every minute of it. They are able to recount funny memories such as the drama of the “love quadrangles” from their freshmen year and fond memories such as Mr. Keefe’s velvet couch. However, they all agree that their favorite memory of band is playing “Sleigh Ride” at every Christmas concert.
Each of these three seniors has taken a leadership role this year as the head of their sections. Marissa Schuh, who plays the baritone–the “manliest instrument”–leads the low brass section. “They’re an adorable group of ragamuffins that pull it together,” said Schuh.
Kirby Ahlm also leads an instrumental section in the band. His “tight-knit” section of saxophones can often be seen standing up or even dancing while playing especially exciting songs in pep band. Joe Kramer, a self-proclaimed “brass enthusiast,” playing the trumpet, trombone, and flugelhorn, leads his section of trumpets, even taking the honor of playing the sound of the horse whinnying at the end of “Sleigh Ride” this year.
All three are happy to have been a part of the great experience that is the BSM band–for better or for worse. “Pep band is social humiliation,” says Schuh. She takes this light-heartedly though, happily enduring the embarrassment for a chance to go to Florida in February while everyone else stays at school. “You may boo at us at the Homecoming game, but who’s [going to be] stuck in the snow.”
While all of the seniors play their own instrument with great skill, one shining example is senior Monica Shaffer. Having played the flute since third grade and the piccolo since sixth, Shaffer has been a part of the BSM band for six years. Although Shaffer mostly plays the piccolo today in band, she competes in different contests playing the flute.
Although the BSM band has always played a large role in school spirit, this year’s band is set apart from the rest. “This is the strongest band we’ve had in a long time,” said director Mr. Paul Keefe. “We have a very musical freshmen class. There’s strength in every section, and senior leadership in almost every section.” With such a talented group of musicians, Mr. Keefe has even been able to get the band to perform music at the Christmas concert that they hadn’t been able to perform before. “The music [at the Christmas concert] was the hardest music we ever played,” said Mr. Keefe.
But perhaps the highlight of band this year is their trip to sunny Florida this February. “We’re taking 37 band members to Florida in one month to perform as a part of [the] ‘Lights Camera Music’ [music program] at Universal Studios in Orlando,” said Mr. Keefe.
Here, students will get an opportunity to play on the stage at the city walk and perform for Universal Studios visitors from all around the world. Besides spending time at Universal Studios, the band will also attend a clinic at a local college and go to the beach. These activities will give a chance for band members to bond and for freshmen to start making their own memories unique to the band experience.