Marching Band – A Retrospective

The Penn Marching Kingsmen marched into their 2022-2023 competition season with a theme that elevates what they do. Among the Clouds will be the theme that directs their actions for the rest of the season.

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN Students pay attention to Mr. Landoll as he instructs them.

Penn Marching Band director DJ Landoll explains how the theme was picked. He stated that the PMK hired a new program coordinator who works with a drill designer and a music arranger, and the theme was their idea. He says “[The theme] Among the Clouds started back in December and January of this past year. The directors get together at the end of each season to talk through how our season went and what we’d like to do for the next year.” 

The members of the marching band also love the theme. Freshman tuba player Maddie Richardson gives a brief explanation about the show itself. “We’re basically fighting…the storm and we’re winning in part one, and in part two, the hurricane comes. We start losing against the hurricane in part three; it’s kind of like the aftermath of the hurricane and so it’s really soft and smooth. And then part four is the victory part of the show where we all celebrate because we beat the hurricane”.

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN The theme is presented here with the background as clouds.

Marching band is a big commitment and is a big part of the music and band programs here at Penn. So, it’s no wonder that there are many directors that help out, as well as students. The band directors revealed that student leadership serves a big role in the band’s success. When asked how he keeps his students motivated, Mr. Landoll said, “We have really good student leadership here…I think it starts with leadership [from] juniors and seniors in the group who really believe in what the band’s about and want to create a great happy welcoming atmosphere for everybody and make everybody feel like they can do whatever’s being asked of them.”

Director Glenn Northern adds on, saying, “We have four drum majors: three seniors and one junior. They do a great job of leading the band on and off the field. Our student leadership includes our section leaders, our assistant section leaders, and other seniors. They do a really good job of taking care of the group, of looking after each other, and trying to make sure our processes and procedures are adhered to.”

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN The marching band members spend time outside to practice.

As you can tell, fellowship and community are key to achieving the high standards the band sets. So, what is marching band truly about?? The participants seem to agree that making friends is a large part of the band’s importance. Junior trumpet player Keighra Michele says “Over half of my friends I have now are in marching band with me”, and freshman alto saxophone player Landen Gavros adds “[My favorite part about marching band is] the people, it has to be. They’re just always so nice and they’re always caring, it’s awesome.”

 Senior flute player Ray Catral agrees, saying that marching band has changed his life, “One, I have lifelong friends, even previous seniors…I’m still in contact with them surprisingly. And, I’d say work ethic. The marching band will teach you pretty dang good work ethic.”

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN The seniors of the Penn Marching Kingsmen on senior night.

Marching band is a great opportunity to make music with your friends. Senior baritone player Isabella Listello says that the most rewarding thing about being in the band is “Finishing a show and realizing what you did wrong, knowing how you can do better next time, and then just [talking it out] with your friends. And you realize how either really bad you were or how great you were. And either way, you learn something”. Junior trumpet player Olivia Nijim agrees, saying “It’s pretty hard at the beginning of the year, and you have kind of a hard time sometimes…but then you get better, you see yourself improving and then, ideally at the end of the year, you look back and you’re like ‘Wow, I’ve come a long way”.

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN The band walks along the track and plays before a football game.

In conclusion, marching band is a great experience not just in music, but in a social aspect as well. The marching band community keeps growing and will continue to make more music for us all to enjoy at home football games and band competitions. Many of the marchers would encourage others to join the band, and experience the wonderful community that is Penn’s music program.

Rishita Maheshwaram | PNN