The return of students to campus this fall has been punctuated by the distant, yet familiar sound of instruments tuning at the Wolfpack Training Center. The NC State marching band has arrived on the practice field.
For over 80 years, NC State’s marching band has performed at numerous University events, including freshman convocation, the Legacy Luncheon and most football games. The band, also known by its moniker, “The Power Sound of the South,” attracts students from both NC State and its neighboring institutions.
Jordan Fulk, a fourth-year studying biology at Meredith College, plays the trumpet in State’s band. She credits the marching band with helping her find her current community of friends and for shaping her college experience.
“The community is really nice and it’s a great way to meet new people.” Fulk said. “Everyone gets really excited when they see the band too.”
Fans will recall how the COVID-19 pandemic shortened last year’s marching band season. They can now rest assured that the marching band will return this fall. In fall 2021, the marching band plans to perform at both home football games and away games.
Zachariah Kahler, a fourth-year studying animal science, also plays the trumpet in NC State’s marching band. The band’s welcoming atmosphere and close community attracted Kahler to join his freshman year.
“I was in the marching band for all four years of high school, and I really wanted to continue being in a marching band because it’s like a big family,” Kahler said. “You have all these amazing friends, especially in the trumpet section. We’re all really close.”
According to Kahler, the band struggled at the pandemic’s onset to find suitable masks for its performances. Luckily, band members found a way to mitigate COVID-19 transmission through bell covers, which filter particles coming out of wind instruments.
“We had some masks and bell covers that were designed for us to play with, but it was just very weird to work with them,” Kahler said.
Kaitlyn Tiffany, a fourth-year studying fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, remarked on the closeness of the band community as well. Tiffany plays the piccolo with NC State’s marching band.
“[Band] is really your built-in family at State — we joke that it’s 350 of your closest friends that are also strangers,” Tiffany said. “If I go into a class and I see somebody wearing a band shirt, then I automatically go and sit next to them. We may have never spoken before but we are instant friends because we are both in the band.”
Each August, the marching band gathers on campus to practice for its new-and-improved, upcoming performances.
“Every year it gets better,” Tiffany said. “They’ve added planes flying overhead with colored smoke, fireworks in the endzone, and this year they’re talking about adding flame throwers.”
Forrest Budway, the marching band’s drumline instructor, said the marching band is essentially back to what it was doing in 2019. As the drumline instructor, Budway teaches the current drumline, auditions prospective students and writes music for that section — both performance and exercise pieces.
“Being outside, there are a lot fewer restrictions,” Budway said. “Right now we are not rehearsing outside with masks on. We are still adhering to the ‘stay three feet apart when you can’ recommendation and, luckily, a lot of our drills have us at intervals of four steps or seven and a half feet.”
If you attend any football games this fall, watch out for the marching band. Its epic performances and lively stand-tunes demonstrate why it is known as “The Power Sound of the South.”