UB's marching band, Thunder of the East, has stomped the stereotype associated with most marching bands.
According to typical pop-culture, students that participate in bands are often misconstrued as outcasts. Their Saturday nights don't consist of blowing saliva down metal instruments, at least not all night. Instead, they prove that music, school spirit, and college pride can be as cool as Marty McFly.
Christine Szafran, the band's commanding officer, says that labeling the band as little more than a bunch of musical misfits is misguided.
"Honestly, as soon as you get to college, the ‘band geek' label goes away. I think it's because there's a wide variety of people in the band, there's not really a specific ‘type' of person we all are. We all have different interests and hobbies," Szafran said.
The band is comprised of a unique range of individuals who come together to form one immense rhythmic sound and spirit.
Kelsey Leach, a junior studio art major and a flute player in the ensemble, recognises this shared identity.
"As I suited up for my first UB football game, I was absolutely terrified," Leach said. "By the time the pre-game show was over, I realized that no one was actually focusing on me as a single unit, it was the band as a whole that grabbed the crowd's attention."
The band's solidarity is not something that comes easily. Behind the scenes, these musical marvels spend hours practicing and perfecting their craft.
On Monday and Wednesday nights, Kunz Field on North Campus is taken over physically and musically when the band comes together for rehearsal. The musicians, staff, dazzlers and color guard all migrate there to ensure their act is as strong as it can be. Add to this the time they spend individually rehearsing, attending camps and other music programs, and it becomes clear that their hard work pays off.
According to Leach, this precision and discipline creates a sense of family and is the staple behind the formation of such strong bonds.
"When a rookie or a freshman comes in on the first day of band camp in August, they can easily feel lost, overwhelmed or intimidated," Leach said. "After spending 12 hours a day for a total of nine days together, the people that surround you at every practice, become the people you rely on and trust. They become teachers, mentors and support, every aspect of a family."
This group of musicians extends beyond just a few instruments. The color guard and dazzlers also contribute to the formation of Thunder of the East. According to UB Dazzlers' coach, Korinne Sullivan, the separate groups work in conjunction to provide quality entertainment for student crowds.
"As a visual component of the marching band, the dance team expresses through movement, the sound and rhythm of the Thunder of the East," Sullivan said. "The UB Dazzlers Dance Team has been tastefully designed to reflect the pride we have for The University at Buffalo."
If one took the time to look at the faces behind these instruments, they will begin to see that the marching band is much more then just a heap of kids in uniforms and instruments walking in unison. They take pride in the UB spirit and work hard to ensure you do too.