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Marching band reflects on traditions, prepares for first home game

| Friday, September 9, 2016

Ahead of his first Midnight Drummer Circle, sophomore Patrick Falvey didn’t know how many people would come. The numbers at the Friday night band tradition amazed him.

“I walk up to the Dome and see this enormous crowd of a few thousand people all there for us to start game day,” Falvey, a quad drummer on the Notre Dame Marching Band, said. “[To] kick it off was a really thrilling experience.”

The Notre Dame Marching Band performs at last year's Shamrock Series against Boston College.Caroline Genco | The Observer

The Notre Dame Marching Band performs at last year’s Shamrock Series against Boston College.

The main event of a Notre Dame home football game weekend is, of course, the game. But visitors to campus also prioritize attending the Midnight Drummer Circle or one of the Band of the Fighting Irish’s other traditional pre-game performances, such as Trumpets in the Dome and the Concert on the Steps of Bond Hall.

Junior clarinet player Danny Cohen said one of his favorite traditions is the band’s march to Notre Dame Stadium on Saturdays.

“The march-outs are really cool because … I see all of the kids right on my side looking at me, or putting their hands out and being like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at all these people,’” Cohen said. “It’s the coolest thing to see their amazement and how much of an impact the band has on the game day experience. I’ll never be a [Division I] athlete, but I get to impact these people who come in such a way that it’s really special.”

Falvey said he loves to see the affect the band has on younger fans in particular.

“As a young fan I was in awe of the band … but now being a part of it, I definitely feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “Just seeing the excitement and the joy we bring to fans, especially younger fans like myself back in the day, it’s really cool to see the effect that we have on people.”

Junior clarinet player Carolyn Ebner said she feels a sense of responsibility to ensure everyone’s experience watching the band is memorable.

“One of the things they tell us in band is that every time you perform, it’s someone’s first time seeing you and someone’s last time seeing you, which is just something that I really take to heart,” Ebner said. “… Now it’s my responsibility to make someone else awestruck by that and just to kind of make it magical for them.”

Senior drum major Danny Martin, who played trumpet in the band for the past three years, said he is excited to experience these traditions as a viewer instead of a player and has already been humbled by the difference.

“Being able to actually witness the hard work that people have put in and to hear the band playing and not be playing myself [is going to be the biggest difference],” Martin said. “To be able to both participate in that, but also witness it and be able to see how much time and effort that all these people have put into this program, into the game day experience at Notre Dame as a whole, I’ve been very humbled by the work and the dedication of the members of the band, and now as drum major, being outside my section, I can see that on a base level.”

Senior Kim Forbes marches onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Senior Kim Forbes marches onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium.

Junior trumpet player Grace Garry said the amount of work the band puts in brings them closer as a community.

“We try and do a lot of bonding,” Garry said. “For example, we have a band buddy system [in which] the upperclassmen become band buddies with an incoming freshman. … The band just does a really good job of looking out for one another.”

Martin says this closeness leads to individual section game day traditions that most fans don’t even realize take place.

“The clarinets always go to the Fr. Sorin statue and play, the baritones always play outside the Dome after we finish Trumpets Under the Dome and each section typically has something like that,” he said. “ … Little things that are unique to the band that also, if you do happen to stumble upon them as a fan, can be a really cool experience.”

Despite the number of memorable traditions that take place before the football game, junior trumpet player Robert Gallant said the most exhilarating moment for band members during a home football game weekend is the trot out onto the field for the pregame show.

“Everyone in band says you get six home games a year, so you only get 24 trots out of that tunnel,” Gallant said. “You don’t want to take any of them for granted.”

A full schedule of the band’s performances is available at ndband.com.

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a junior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, and currently serving as News Editor. She is a proud resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Contact Courtney