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When looking for the backbone of Boston College school spirit and talent, look no further than the bleachers. The Boston College Marching Band has served as an integral force on campus, and on the weekend of October 19thand 20ththey celebrated their Centennial year.
Band director David Healey said they had been looking forward to this celebration for more than a decade.
Alex DeGeorge, MCAS ’20, elaborated on his experience performing at the Band’s Centennial anniversary.
“We performed with almost 200 alumni during the halftime show at Homecoming. It was such a fun experience and it was really incredible to hear about their times in the Band,” DeGeorge said.
Meaghan Wallace, MCAS ’21, echoed his sentiments.
“I was so excited to see all of our alumni on our Centennial weekend,” Wallace said.
Matt Preston, MCAS ’20, also commented on his love for the band and how it has enriched his time at BC.
“The best thing about being in the band is the community and culture, not only have I met some of the best friends of my life, but I have also made friends with people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, such as our guest members from other colleges and universities,” Preston said.
The two halftime shows they have performed were from two of their prior favorite pieces from 2004 and 2009 respectively that they knew they would perform later for this event.
While they are most known for what they do at football games, Healey explained how they also take a lot of pride in the work they do outside as well. Just this past spring they played the National Anthem at the Red Sox game and they also played with the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues on Saint Patrick’s Day. Every year they also perform at the Boston Pops concert. Most recently they played during the halftime show at the Celtics-Knicks basketball game on November 1st.
While keeping the tradition of the marching band alive, the band has also included some innovative new techniques especially in the stands. They have increased the number of electric instruments that they use as well and have implemented a percussion pad.
Healey’s path to directing the band began with his maternal grandmother, who was one of the first female graduates of Boston College. His Dad also went to BC and he recalled going to football games when he was younger and enjoying the environment there.
As a chemistry major at Boston College he was able to continue to enjoy this environment. During his time as an undergraduate he was able to see three of the four total Band Directors that worked at BC from 1955-2019. After working as a part-time instructor, he worked as a part time staff member at BC for six year before attaining the role of Band Director, which he has held for twenty-one years.
Community is key and Healey said how working with the students is his favorite part of the role and make going to work every day a thrill for him.
“They are so smart and funny and self-motivated and have a never-ending reservoir of energy. No matter what we throw at them they take it all in stride,” Healey said.
And throw at them they do. Due to the unpredictability of the conditions that the band performs in, Healey trains them to be resilient and prepared for any weather. They undergo stress testing and tough practices so that they can discover and work through their limits in practice, rather than during a performance. They work at an incredibly high level and the proof is in their incredible performance and the numbers as well.
Last year, about seven million people watched their televised performances during the games.
In terms of practice, members of the band report to campus around 8-10 days before the start of the academic year for their pre-season camp. These practices serve as a great way to integrate new members that have never marched before. During this camp they learn around forty different stand pieces and the first of their two halftime shows.
Preston additionally talked about the Band’s sense of community.
“Everyone is supportive and friendly with each other and each section has their own unique subculture within the band. It’s really fun to see the difference between sections such as the Battery versus the Saxophones. Overall, it’s a wonderful group of people.”
Healey also said that while they do not receive academic credit for being in the Band (like some students at other schools do), the significant commitment put in by the students is a true testament of their love for the program.
“When you come to a football game you want to be immersed in what it’s like to be at Boston College and that’s what the band does; that’s what makes it distinct,” Healey said.
The band’s hard work and talent is a wonderful representation of Boston College. They deserve recognition not only for their Centennial year but also for all of their efforts going forward.