By Ellie Schuckman
They are set to play at the MainStage during Homecoming, have high hopes to perform at the November Lions’ Day, want to have a presence at Accepted Students Day, and they have only been an established club for less than three weeks.
The College’s newly added Pep Band aims to bring a level of school spirit some say is lacking in an atmosphere unfamiliar with live music.
“The idea of establishing a pep band at TCNJ came to me at the first football game of my freshman year,” junior music major and President Sam Nemeth said. “We had scored a touchdown, and then something that sounded like a fight song began playing out of the sound system. I remember the incredible atmosphere that live music was able to create from high school, and I felt that there was a musical hole that needed filling at TCNJ athletic events.”
At the Student Government general body meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 17, the club was voted in, marking the first time in approximately eight years the College has had a live band.
According to junior accounting major and Pep Band Treasurer Andrew Hood, Student Government had no argument whether to establish the pep band.
“It promotes school spirit, it’s an excellent public relations tool and it provides the student with another activity they can use to express themselves,” he said.
According to Nemeth, there was a Pep Band here years ago which paid students to play. He believes the group disbanded when the “payment for the students was no longer possible.”
“The challenges in getting started were actually pretty extensive,” said Nemeth, who plays trumpet in the band. “We had to assemble a foundation for the group that would be functional and sustainable.”
He also noted the group’s new adviser, David Vickerman, director of Bands and Wind Ensemble at the College.
With 29 members to date, the group says more people keep coming to the Sunday night practices as word spreads its new establishment.
“People are bringing in other people,” said junior music education major Sean Ferguson, a tuba player in the band. “There’s a lot more hype from the student body about having a real band out there.”
As the main focus is performing at football games, the songs are selected to fit that atmosphere.
“We are picking some of the more obvious pieces you would hear playing at a football game,” Hood said. “However, we are in the process of finding some music that is a bit more fun that you wouldn’t normally hear being played with a pep band instrumentation.”
Pep Band will also be open for non-music majors who wish to play in a live band.
“One of the best parts about this organization is that it is another musical outlet for non-music majors,” said Hood, who recalled his intimidation of auditioning for music ensembles. “This provides another outlet for music-loving students that don’t major in the subject.”
For many, the establishment of Pep Band serves as a way to perform for masses of people, much like in a marching band.
“Playing for people in public, I think that’s fun,” said Ferguson, who has seven years of marching band experience.
Hood expressed his own interest in the ability to perform outdoors.
“I was a little disappointed that, when I was applying to TCNJ, they didn’t have any activity that would satisfy the marching band craving you have one you leave high school,” said Hood, who was in marching band for three years. “Although this may not be the same exact thing, it allows us to play fun, exciting music for the student body and alumni at football games and other events outside. All attributes run parallel to high school marching band.”
Though they are still waiting for events other than football games to perform at, there is some talk of having a flashmob in Alumni Grove, according to Ferguson.
“There’s a lot of stuff we can do,” he said.
Even though they are newly established, the group remains optimistic about the direction they are heading.
“I’m really excited to see that this project has taken off in the past couple weeks, and I know that we all can’t wait to have an impact on the TCNJ community and level of school spirit,” Nemeth said.