Artistry, strength, and precision are all factors that a marching band strives for. Last Saturday, that is what Wilkes’ Marching Colonels aimed to bring to the field during the first football game against Muhlenberg.
The Marching Colonels is the only college level marching band in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. The idea of Wilkes housing their own marching band came from President Patrick Leahy.
“He (Leahy) came to me about 18 months ago and we talked about it briefly,” Dr. Philip Simon, director of Marching Colonels, said. “Then I met with the associate vice-president for marketing Dr. Chielli, and he said ‘how do you feel about starting a marching band here at Wilkes?’ I said how’s tomorrow.”
This is just one of the new improvements President Leahy made since his 2012 arrival.
“Since President Leahy arrived, an adventuresome spirit and that idea of trying new things resided with enough people for us to be able to do something like this,” Simon said.
With each new addition or change Wilkes undergoes, the hope of a more appealing campus and educational experience is in mind.
“A basic idea behind the marching band is that it services as a very good recruitment tool for the rest of the University.” Simon said. “Many students came here when otherwise they would have went somewhere else.”
There are many first-year students participating in the band now that prove Simon’s statement right. Dian McKinney is a first-year English major playing percussion and mallets in the band.
“I love marching band. I did six years of marching band in high school,” McKinney said. “It was a factor in what drove me to Wilkes.”
The Marching Colonels is made up of 32 members, some with years of experience while some have none. With each member comes a different school year and area of study within the University, creating a diverse marching band.
“What is awesome about this marching band is that you can also have a life outside of marching band.” McKinney said. “You have time to do your studies and play with amazing leaders and members to make a great piece of art. You learn from others and their drive for the art drives you. Hopefully we are making friendship that will last.”
Playing for a marching band is comparable to playing a competitive sport on a team. Everyone works together in a close-knit relationship to have a phenomenal result in the end.
“We want to amaze everyone, and this (experience) has lived up to my expectation,” Morgan Confer, member of the color guard said. “Within the color guard we all have the same goal and that is to show everyone that with a little bit of hard work and some time that this amazing show will come out of it.”
Amazing the crowd is a common goal for the band. Much of marching band is producing a visual show for the audience.
“The performing aspect is what I enjoy the most. People normally don’t think of the strength, visual, and athleticism that goes into a color guard and marching band,” Confer added. “It is a visual and performing art.”
Simon adds, “Performing for the first home game then developing that performance and perfecting it while making it more sophisticated over the next seven weeks… Everytime it gets better we will add a few things; making it better for the audience.”
The Marching Colonels practice every Tuesday and Friday, and are scheduled to perform at every home football game.