For this fall athletic season, student musicians have grouped to form a pep band to energize the crowds at Bruins sports games.
Aaron Fox and Dan Elston, both junior music education majors, work together as the leaders of the band. The two were spotted parading around Rush with their instruments by Matthew Weathers, director of the center for leadership and development, and he got the idea of starting a pep band. Fox then organized the student-led band that took shape right away at the beginning of the 2020 fall semester.
“We found some old music from the pep band that they had five years ago, and Daniel Elston and I put some music together,” Fox said. “Within three weeks, it all came together.”
The pep band has approximately 20 students with five trumpets, five trombones, four saxophones, three percussionists, two French horns, two tubas and a euphonium.
Fox said, “We play peppy music in general, and we try to play songs everyone would recognize.” The pep band often plays movie themes and professional sports themes, with the occasional upbeat classical piece.
“We just try to put a smile on people’s faces,” Fox said. “Last week, [Will Kozik] and I got out there and played the ‘Veggie Tales’ theme song, and the crowd liked that a lot.”
Heather Madison, a senior accounting major and alto saxophone player in the band, said, “We have played ‘Mission Impossible’ and the Avengers theme song, trying to think of things that people would recognize.”
Having played the alto saxophone in high school, Madison said she enjoys being able to play again. She said, “The pep band has caused me to branch out and do things I would never do otherwise.” The band is an exciting opportunity for students who do not have music majors or minors to play their instruments.
“This is something Bob Jones [University] has needed for a long time ever since they started the Bruins back in 2012,” Fox said. “We have been needing something to energize the games and get people more hyped.”
Dr. Cox, head of the department of instrumental studies, is the faculty sponsor of the group, and Aaron Burk, assistant men’s director of student life, has helped to promote the pep band and provide the students with the necessary game information. Burk is currently working to get uniforms for the band.
“Dr. Pettit and Dr. Benson are [also] really enthusiastic about it,” Fox said. “I could not appreciate more the faculty interest in the pep band.”
The pep band is growing as more opportunities open. The group is planning to play at the Turkey Bowl and is looking for other events where they can play. The pep band has mainly played at soccer games as the group is still in its early stages.
However, the band played at their first volleyball game on Oct. 23 where the Bruins faced PCC. Fox said the band plans to expand to basketball games when the season begins. Fox is enthusiastic about the future of the pep band. “It is only going to get better from here,” he said.