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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Annamarie Parker
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I am an English, Writing major with a double minor in German and journalism. I'm also pursuing my TESOL certificate while working for Housing and Residence Life. I love to travel and meet new people.

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Wildcats Prepare to March by the Numbers

Band camp:a time where wild teens join up with nerdy teachers for a week of buffoonery and sexual escapades.

At least, that’s the impression left by American Pie’s 2005 interpretation.

But real life does not necessarily imitate Hollywood. Here at NMU, band camp—and marching band, in general—is a very real ordeal.

Andrew Graham, drumline section leader and senior music education major, said band camp, which took place the week before classes began, is more difficult than one would think.

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band_kristenk“8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. all week. Basic marching stuff can be pretty taxing,” Graham said. “You really have to concentrate, it’s so physically demanding.”

Graham said he can recall the final day of band camp.

“Rehearsing that afternoon in 90 degree heat and humidity, [we were] exhausted from a week of work [and] trying to learn drill,” Graham said. “As soon as rehearsal was over, people went straight to Lake Superior and jumped in, some still in their clothes.”

According to NMU band director Stephen Grugin, who is entering his 17th year at NMU, the intense week of music and marching is necessary to prepare for a busy season, but it’s also when rehearsals begin to compete with students’ time for academics.

The hard work is rewarded each year by the satisfaction of performance in pregame and halftime shows at the home games, in the homecoming parade and this year an away game at Grand Valley State University on Saturday, Oct. 19  in Allendale, Mich.

There are 106 band members total, most of which are non-music majors, Grugin said, although many have played music since middle school.

“This is the largest Wildcat Band we’ve had in several decades,” Grugin said. “I’m also delighted that there are over 60 freshman members this year.”

band2_kristenk“I guess you could say that we’re on the upswing, on a roll. Call it what you like — I just want to keep it going. I foresee great times ahead for the band and the entire music program at NMU,”

AnnMarie Ede, senior social work major and band council president, said there are a number of benefits to playing in marching band.

“Definitely a whole lot of friends, especially when you first come into college,” she said. “Starting right away with band camp, you just instantly have this huge network of friends.”

Nate Selfridge, senior music education major and alto sax player, said band made him feel more confident after being shy in high school.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t much (of a time-commitment),” Selfridge said. “But it’s not replacing that time with more classes. It’s hanging out with some of the coolest, most awesome people you’ll end up meeting in college and really defining your college experience. So that’s not really a sacrifice in my eyes.”

Concern that band students’ GPAs suffer is surprisingly unfounded, according to Graham and Selfridge, who had just the opposite to report, citing improved time management skills as a result of marching band. Ede said she agrees.

“Most band members perform better during marching band than in the spring,” Ede said. That’s true for me that my GPA is actually higher. You just learn to balance your time.”

Grugin said since the band doesn’t have an assistant director or graduate assistants, student leadership is critical for the bands success.

Selfridge said the role of drum major, for example, comes with a number of different tasks. As drum major, Selfridge said he conducts the band, leads them in the parade, assists younger students and makes sure others know the  fundamentals of marching.

The 59th Annual Band Day on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the NMU vs. Wayne State football game will offer another leadership opportunity, as area high school bands participate with the Wildcat Band at halftime for a “spectacular massed band performance,” Grugin said.

Selfridge said the best comes after everything is all said and done.

“[The best part is] walking off the field, sitting in the stands and taking off our hats,” he said. “Everyone is drenched with sweat, finally relaxing and seeing who can make the weirdest hairdos.”

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