Q. How much advance notice did the band get of this decision? What was that week like in terms of shifting gears to expand performances (in the stands) while implementing safety protocols?
A. As soon as we had the new protocols in hand, we acted quickly to make sure the band had what was needed to perform in the stands. There are over 20 stand tunes in our music book; we rehearsed about 12 on Friday night and 12 on Saturday afternoon to be ready to play in the stands.
Q. What was the reaction of the surrounding students and other UVA fans when the entire band began playing from the stands? And what were the types of musical interludes that you performed from the stands?
A. If I remember correctly, the first thing we played together in the stands was the ‘First down!’ cheer (shout out to UVA’s offense!). I think the band felt the love from nearby sections and from fans standing nearby on the hill.
We play a wide range of music in the stands: traditional UVA tunes, the White Stripes, AC/DC, Beyonce, Ozzy Osbourne, Jeezy, Ye, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen, Three Six Mafia, Hurricane Shorty, the theme from “Rocky,” Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake.
Q. Why is the marching band such an important part of the overall football game experience?
A. How much time do you have? College marching bands are a key distinction between college and pro sports. We spread the sights and the sounds of the University everywhere we go. We sonify the University’s brand: “The Cavalier Song,” “The Good Old Song,” “Go Hoos Go!,” proudly wearing UVA’s orange and blue, bringing energy and entertainment, engaging the community through visual and musical performance. The list goes on.
It’s the heart that the band members put into their performance that makes the difference. Game days are best with the Cavalier Marching Band.
Q. For the first four home games, was it a challenge to adjust to the more restrictive performance guidelines that limited the Cavalier Marching Band’s performances in the stands to its drum corps, the color guard and twirlers? [This policy was based on the recommendation of public health experts advising UVA leaders that playing brass and woodwind instruments in the stands, surrounded by other fans, could potentially risk transmission of the COVID virus.]
A. First and foremost, I was incredibly proud of what our students accomplished in rehearsal on Carr’s Field, in performance on the Scott Stadium field and how they supported each other outside of rehearsals as well. We have a responsibility as a visible ensemble and student group on Grounds to support the University’s policies and to adhere to what has been requested of us. … I think that our students have been absolute model citizens when it comes to juggling the challenges of what they personally want to do – which is perform musically and support the team and augment the game atmosphere – with the very real challenges of the ongoing pandemic that the University has to respond in real time. … It’s really about public health concern, and I have an appreciation for that.