Marquette Band ready to bring the pep after COVID-19 year

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Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Students prepare for a fun year of pep band ahead.

Marquette University’s Varsity Theatre is ringing out with the sounds of music once more. After the COVID-19 pandemic kept them from meeting as an entire group last school year, the Marquette bands are getting back into the swing of the music and finding their groove as a full ensemble, or as Gabrielle Prehn would say, as a family. 

“I’m looking forward to be able to actually see everybody and hang out with them,” the junior in the College of Health Sciences and Marquette Band secretary said.

The bands, like every other student organization on campus, were forced to adapt to the protocols set in place by COVID-19.For professor of practice and wind ensemble director Dr. Erik Janners and his students, that meant smaller rehearsal sizes and special “playing masks” for students.

“Last year was the year that was really different because following all of the rules set by state and local governments, as well as Marquette, we had to play in small groups, so we could social distance,” he said.

Charlie Dennert, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, as well as the Marquette Band president and percussionist in the wind ensemble, said that conducting those small groups was a little challenging.

“I conducted a couple of the flute ensembles, Dennert said “[and] if you [had to] choose which instrument is about as different from percussion as you can get, it’s a flute.”

Now that the entire “family” is back together, Marquette bands are back to hosting the concerts, attending sporting events and going on the group outings that they missed last year.

The first concert lined up for the semester is the Family Weekend Concert which will take place Sunday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in Varsity Theatre. This concert will feature members of the symphonic band and the wind ensemble, the two more traditional bands of the six that Marquette Bands has to offer.

“Concerts are a little bit more serious because we’ve been working on our pieces all semester to reach up to what we’re playing in front of our parents and our friends, and whoever comes to it,” Prehn said.

There are 11 other band concerts lined up for the school year, each one spotlighting a different band. The symphonic band and jazz ensembles will have two performances, one this fall and one in the spring, while the wind ensemble and orchestra take the stage in the fall, winter and spring.

Other than concerts, Janners and the pep band are ready for the excitement of an in-person Marquette sports season. With women’s volleyball already underway and the men’s and women’s basketball seasons just around the corner, the director of the band said that as long as local and city governments allow gatherings in large capacities, the band will be there and ready to play.

“As far as we know, we’re planning on operations like normal,” Janners said. “Full speed ahead with pep band.”

But while Marquette students love to jam out to the pep band at men’s basketball games, to the members of the band, this group means more than just having a good time and playing music with friends.

“This is by far the best experience I could have chosen to join here [at Marquette],” Prehn said. “I probably would have transferred if it weren’t for Marquette bands my [first] year.”

As students find their way back into the groove of an in-person semester, maybe they will find their way into a new family: a family that’s got the music and so much more ahead of them now that they are back together again. 

This story was written by Kim Cook. She can be reached at kimberly.cook@marquette.edu.