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We Are PRMB! How to Prep for Band Camp

August 09, 2022

By: Emily Shar '24

August has finally arrived, meaning the end of the summer break from school. Some are wondering where the seemingly endless time went, while others are excited to get back on campus and be with friends again. Though classes don’t start until August 22, there are students who will be starting their return to one class sooner than the rest—fall band!

Jeff Neitzke takes a selfie with the 2021 marching band during band camp

The Purple Raider Marching Band comes back to campus more than a week before classes for band camp; five days full of music, marching, and camaraderie. For incoming first year students, this will be their first on campus experience as students, which can be nerve wracking. No need to worry, though – drum major Richard Ulam (biology major) and section leaders Gwyneth Hollenbach (percussion, music major), Joseph Haas (saxophone, human resource management/Spanish majors), Joshua Clay (trombone, music with a composition concentration/computer science majors) and I (clarinet, music/public relations majors) are here to lend advice!

Preparing for band camp may seen overwhelming, especially as a new student. Gwyn, Joseph, and I start by logging into Desire 2 Learn (Mount Union’s learning management system, often called “D2L”) and listening to the recordings of the new music when our band director, Jeff Neitzke, uploads them over the summer. Playing through the music slowly and marking trouble spots to work on are also suggested. Richard suggests exercising, as band camp is a little physically demanding!

L to R: Gwyn Hollenbach, Rachel Vaughan, Emily Shar, and Richard Ulam

As for materials needed, Gwyn sums it up best by saying, “Sunscreen, water, and ear plugs! Our health is so incredibly important. If we’re not healthy, we can’t perform to the best of our ability.” Along with those, hats, sunglasses, athletic clothing, reusable water bottles, good tennis shoes, and any extra supplies you might need for your instrument (reeds, cork grease, valve oil, etc.) are good things to pack. Don’t forget to pack black socks, too!

Since school starts so soon after band camp, it’s a good idea to get all your class supplies. Joseph suggests a “not-too-bulky backpack, umbrella, favorite pens, and AirPods.” Josh adds to the list with “folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, and scissors.”

Top L: Sam Darrin, Schuyler Hollenbach, Abigail Lindsey

Did you know that most band members are involved in more than one activity on campus? We are involved in a wide variety of ensembles, clubs, and organizations. Some of the music involvement includes Concert Choir, Cantus Femina, jazz band, wind ensemble, concert band, Alliance Symphony Orchestra, Purple Raider Steel Band, and chamber ensembles to name a few. Campus involvement includes fraternity and sorority life; service fraternities (Kappa Kappa Psi, Alpha Phi Omega); honor societies; major and career-related organizations like Student Human Resource Management Society (SHRM), Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association (OCMEA); and major and career-specific fraternities like Mu Phi Epsilon (professional music fraternity), Kappa Delta Pi (education fraternity), etc. Many of these students also hold on campus jobs in the Music Library, marketing office, DWOC (digital, written and oral communications) studio, academic affairs, and more.

With so much going on, how do we do it? Time management, planning ahead, and setting boundaries are all crucial skills with so much going on. At the beginning of each semester, I go through all my syllabi and mark down due dates and test dates on my phone calendar (with reminders) and my physical planner (because it helps me to see my whole week at once) and I change them as needed. I also plan out practice times each week to create a consistent routine with my instrument.

L to R: Lauren Amodio, Mahlee Evans, Kaylie "Kay" Carson, and Emily Shar

Richard says, “I balance all my activities and schoolwork by prioritizing my studies and creating a schedule for myself to follow,” while Josh says he “deals with one thing at a time.” Joseph prioritizes his alone time, saying, “Whether you spend it at the gym, cooking, or just watching TV, it’s important to take breaks from school, extracurriculars, and even friends to decompress from your responsibilities.” Gwyn, similarly to Josh and Richard, says, “I make a priority list of what needs my attention and focus most. It’s important to know that you’re human and you can’t accomplish everything. I just do the best I can and have peace in knowing I’ve given what I can!”

While I am a people pleaser, I am learning to say ‘no’ when I know a task would be too much on me. I am more involved on campus than others may be (I have 12 time commitments including ensembles, jobs, clubs, and activities), but it is certainly possible to be involved in multiple things, stay on top of classes, and get an adequate amount of sleep.

The Purple Raider Marching Band performing in fall 2019

With being as busy as we are, it would be much more time efficient for us to just forgo band, especially for those of us who are not instrumental music majors. But, we come back year after year. Richard perfectly sums this up by saying, “I chose to be in marching band because I love the activity and the people that are part of it.” Joseph echoes this, saying, “ Even though I am not a music major or minor, I enjoy being in band to fill my time and make friends.”

The music program also has scholarships available for majors, minors, and instrumentalists/vocalists who are neither! Joseph, though not a major or minor, is on an instrumental music scholarship to be in the marching band and other ensembles. I am very thankful to be a Music Degree Scholarship recipient here at Mount Union. After being accepted into the University, I auditioned on clarinet (my primary instrument) for the music program and was delighted to receive news that the music program offered me an even bigger scholarship. Though one of the requirements of my scholarship is to be in the Purple Raider Marching Band, I had already planned on participating my entire college career, anyway. So now I get extra relief of my tuition just for doing something I love!

For more information about the music program, the Purple Raider Marching Band, and music scholarships, click here.