SOUTH BEND – Drum roll please, The Notre Dame Marching Band stepped out for the first time in the 2011 season on Thursday. The annual First Marchout signals the start to Band Camp where incoming freshmen have their first chance to try-out for the band that’s 166 years in the making.
The group of about 500 members played around campus on Thursday. The Irish Guard led the band from Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall to Stepan Fields.
Assistant Band Director Larry Dwyer said he too used to be a member of the band, and the experience speaks for itself.
“I’ve had Michael Floyd catch a touchdown literally right in front of me, and there’s nothing like that compared to sitting up in the stands,” said Dwyer.
If you make the marching band cut, you also get to get the chance to play in the “oldest college band in continuous existence in the United States,” said Dwyer.
Dwyer said the band started in the 1845-46 school year. “So the band is actually way older than football. We were there at the first home football game and we’ve been at every one ever since,” said Dwyer.
Even though the band has been around, this is the first year for Senior Matt Roe to take the lead as Notre Dame’s Drum Major.
Roe plays tenor saxophone and has tons of experience doing it. “I started playing that in 5th grade and joined my high school marching band in 6th grade. So this is my 11-th year doing marching band.”
But for him, not much could beat the feeling of leading the band around campus on Thursday.
“It was different because there was no one in front of me. So I was looking out at everything,” said Roe. “But hearing the band behind me and hearing just everyone excited…it was a dream come true for me to do that.”
Of the 500 that played during the Marchout only about 380 will make the final cut. “Some of these students will not make the marching. We do have spots for them in the concert bands, the basketball bands, jazz bands, things like that. So everybody who wants a spot to play can play,” said Dwyer.
Band Camp continues with two-a-days until Monday. Then the final list will be posted. It’ll reveal who gets to take the field as a member of the 166th Notre Dame Marching Band on the first home game of the season.