Marching Band: A Culture of Camaraderie
As a Music Education major with a minor in Jazz Studies, I, Ryan Freeman, chose Kent State for a lot of different reasons. I mainly chose Kent was because of the opportunities that I would have here. In high school, I knew that I wanted to major in music education, but I also wanted to have a concentration in jazz studies.
I knew that Kent State had a great music education program and a great jazz program, so it was my top choice when I was looking at schools.
I first got involved in Kent State’s Marching Golden Flashes during my first semester as a student. I really enjoyed my marching band experience during high school, and I knew that I wanted to continue being involved with a marching band during college. Marching band is a really great place to meet new people, make new friends and even network with other people.
I have made some lifelong friends while being in the marching band, but I have also created a closer bond with the friends I have already had.
The culture of the marching band is very welcoming to all individuals that want to participate in it. The culture that is in the marching band is not only created by the director of athletic bands, Dr. Darin Olson, but also the members as well. All of us really enjoy what we do, and we do the best that we can so that we can all have a great experience.
I have had a lot of conversations with students in the marching band about the struggles that come with being in college and we all try to help each other out. Sometimes it’s just a little pep talk and other times it’s quite a bit deeper than that, but that’s what is really great about the members in the marching band: we genuinely want to see each other succeed.
My favorite marching band memories are all of the football games that we go to. Whether it is really hot or really cold, I always have a fun time watching the game and being around my friends in the stands.
I absolutely love the energy that happens within that stadium and there is a really good connection between our marching band and the Kent State football team.
Our marching band feeds off their energy and they feed off our energy; it is really fun to be a part of. I also love all of the traditions that we have created in the marching band. Every time our football team scores, I get to lead the band by doing calf raises for every point that we have on the scoreboard. It is all of the small things that make my experience THAT much better.
I have had a lot of fun traveling as well!
Some of the coolest experiences that I have had from being in the marching band are the two bowl games that we got to go to. During the Fresco Bowl game, it felt like a surreal experience being able to travel down to Texas and perform along the football team. Our Potato Bowl experience in Idaho was also amazing because I was able to experience a new city. We even got to talk with the Wyoming State Marching Band!
But the most amazing part about the trip was having rehearsal next to a mountain with snow caps on it. I will never forget that rehearsal.
The marching band here at Kent State also allows for leadership opportunities that any member can apply for. I was lucky enough to become a section leader this year and it has been a rewarding experience. As a section leader, I lead marching fundamentals, lead music sectionals, plan activities for our section and also communicate a lot of information to my section.
Being a section leader has been a great opportunity for me because it helps prepare me for when I have a job in the future.
The best piece of advice I can give to a high schooler about to start college is this: What you put into your college experience is what you get out of it. Find ways to further your experience in college because you will become a better version of yourself once you leave.
College is a place to learn many things, not all academic-based. You can learn how to better communicate with people, how to handle stress in a healthy way, how to become an adult or anything else. College is what you want it to be, and you want to find ways that will further yourself as an individual.
For me, that was participating in the band program, but there are a lot of opportunities that you can find at Kent to further yourself.