A Day in the Life of a Michigan Marching Band Student

Pursuing Passions and Finding Community on Campus

By Alexis Howard November 30, 2022
 A Day in the Life of a Michigan Marching Band Student

There aren’t many things that will get me out of bed at 4 a.m. Michigan Football is one of them.

Last Saturday, I woke up bright and early to get ready for The Game. Of course, I’m referring to the annual, much-anticipated football matchup between Michigan and Ohio State. If you’re new here (hi!!), you should know that this is potentially the biggest rivalry in college football. At least, we think so. And the stakes this year were higher than ever — both teams came in undefeated and were fighting for a spot in the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoffs. To say that people were hype about Saturday is a massive understatement.

Potentially the most excited? My friends and I in the Michigan Marching Band.

And so, it’s Saturday morning at 4 a.m. After managing to wake up to my alarm, I put on my band uniform and grab my trumpet case. Then, we hopped on buses for the three-hour drive to Columbus. It was obvious when we had arrived. Instead of the usual sea of maize and blue, we saw nothing but OSU fans adorned in red and gray. Some of them noticed our buses driving in and expressed their disapproval with a passionate thumbs down or stronger hand gesture. The few Michigan fans who spotted us cheered their hearts out. No one could deny that the energy in Columbus was electric.

As the visiting band, we only performed during halftime. Before the game, we stood in the stands and watched the OSU Marching Band perform their classic pregame show. Something that I absolutely adore about music is that it brings people together. Despite the intense school rivalry, the marching bands always cheer each other on. We even ran into parents of OSU band students in the bathroom who were so excited to meet people in the Michigan Marching Band.

In terms of the game itself, Michigan came in as the underdog. OSU was ranked ahead of us, and we hadn’t beaten them at home since before I was born. For much of the first half, it looked like the predictions might come true: As I ran onto the field for halftime, the team was down. But, everything changed in the second half.

I’d like to think that it was the band’s doing, that by putting a block M on OSU’s field during halftime we brought the Wolverines closer to victory. I can tell you with certainty that we thoroughly celebrated each touchdown with a resounding chorus of “The Victors,” U-M’s fight song.

Eventually, the clock ran out. And, we won. I’m not going to forget that moment anytime soon. We played “The Victors.” We cheered. We danced. We cried. It was incredible.

Without a doubt, my favorite thing about being in the Michigan Marching Band is the community. That Saturday in Columbus was so special because we got to experience the victory together, cheering for our school and our team. And this coming weekend, we’ll get to travel to Indianapolis together for the Big Ten Championship.

Something that might surprise you: Out of 400 students in the marching band, only about four are actually studying music. I’m a public policy major in the Ford School, and a lot of my friends in the band are in the College of Engineering, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), or another smaller college like me. I’ve truly found my best friends through this program, and it’s extra special because I’ve gotten to meet people with so many different interests and backgrounds.

My biggest advice for new Michigan students is to get involved with student organizations, like the marching band or one of our 1,600+ other organizations that you may be interested in. These are such an incredible way to make friends on campus, and the best part in my opinion is that you can join clubs that have nothing to do with what you’re studying. I play trumpet because I love it. And, as much as I enjoy my major, it is nice to spend time everyday doing something entirely different.

I’m so thankful that I’ve found community in the Michigan Marching Band, and that I’ve been able to pursue my passions here both inside and outside of the classroom.

Alexis Howard
Alexis Howard

Alexis Howard is a senior from Pinckney, Michigan studying public policy through the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with a minor in Spanish through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Alexis works as a tour guide on campus and loves meeting prospective students. Outside of class, she plays trumpet and is a rank leader in the Michigan Marching Band. In her free time, she enjoys trying new vegetarian recipes and admiring the squirrels on campus.