You may not know it, but if you have been to a home football game, you have seen our marching band’s front ensemble. They are the people down on the track, with concert percussion instruments such as marimbas, xylophones, synthesizer and typani, just to name a few. Front ensemble are the the most unnoticed, yet one of the most important elements of the marching show.
Marching and playing can be difficult for the band, and front ensemble is the one thing that keeps everyone together.
“Since we don’t march, we can provide a musical reference for the band,” said senior Kathy Nguyen, “if someone gets off, they can listen to us and get back on track.”
An interesting fact that many people may not know about front ensemble is that, though they play percussion instruments, many of them are wind players that play instruments that are either too large or too dangerous to march with. In fact, both section leaders, Shelby Westfall and Stuart Miller are obeo players. It may seem difficult to teach wind players to play percussion instruments, but they have what it takes.
“It’s easy to teach them to play keyboard instruments because they already have experience reading music,” said senior section leader Shelby Westfall “we just have to teach technique.”
Though the front ensemble provides such a valuable service, they are often neglected and underappreciated in terms of instruction. Often they have to learn music and organize rehearsals themselves because the percussion clinicians have their hands full with drumline. They manage however;
“It can be challenging when we have to take our own initiative to practice and learn music, but we do it anyway because we know how important it is for us to play well,” said Nguyen.
Though you may have never heard of them before, front ensemble is clearly one of the most vital parts of marching band, and the other members owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment to excellence.