Here you will find answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about the Sycamore Bands. Don't see an answer to one of your questions? Send us a message via our Contact Form, and we will get back to you with a response as soon as possible (and we will add your question to the site).
How do I sign up for auditions?
Audition slots can be signed up for online, using the SignUp Genius service. A link to the signup page is usually posted on our website (under Auditions), as well as on our Facebook page. Additionally, the link is distributed via School of Music mailings sometime during the summer. Auditions are usually the Sunday and Monday of the first week of classes, with results being posted late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, at the latest.
Where can I find audition materials for ensembles?
Audition music for entry into the Wind Orchestra and/or the Wind Symphony is typically posted on our website under Auditions sometime before summer begins. Music can also be distributed by studio professors, and can be found in the main School of Music office (if open). For any further questions on materials, please contact your studio professor directly.
I think I’ll wait until my second year at ISU to audition. What’s the harm in waiting to audition?
Sometimes students wait until the second semester of their freshmen year, or until their sophomore year to audition; we would strongly recommend against this as a viable strategy. There are rarely spots available in the middle of the season for many of the concert ensembles, and members accepted in the Fall typically play for the entire season (Fall and Spring), meaning that waiting until the spring, or until your sophomore year to audition puts you at a significant disadvantage, competing against all of the returning members as well as the incoming class of freshmen, in addition to not having played your instrument for a year.
But I’ll be out of shape by the end of the summer. Why should I risk having a bad audition?
You should not worry about being "out of shape" if you didn't practice all summer. Everybody has a multitude of things to do before arriving on campus, and we understand that. The purpose of the audition is to assess your potential with the understanding that -as with any other class- every student progresses. We’ve been at this a long time – we can tell a lot from an audition, whether you are rusty or not.
How should I dress for auditions?
How you dress in academic and professional situations like an audition says a lot about you. For better or worse, an impression is formed each and every time you enter a room. While we like to think that only results matter, the truth is...if two people have similar levels of playing ability in an audition, and one of them shows up wearing a suit/dress/shirt & tie, and the other shows up in jeans and a t-shirt, most often the perceived professionalism of the first person is going to win out. Is it fair? Maybe, maybe not...but that is reality, and that is life. So...in other words....dress professionally for your audition, and maximize your chances to do well. Besides...when you look professional, you can't help but feel professional...and that may boost your confidence enough to help your audition.
Are you allowed to take any of the ensembles for 0 credit?
Yes, some of the ensembles allow a 0-credit option at the ensemble director’s discretion. Please speak with your ensemble director first before taking this option.
How many ensembles are offered at ISU?
Aside from the three concert bands (Wind Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Concert Band) and the two athletic bands (Marching Sycamores, Sycamore Basketball Band), the School of Music also offers a Jazz Ensemble, a Symphony Orchestra, numerous Choirs, and many smaller chamber music ensembles.
Can I audition to be in more than one ensemble?
Absolutely, though most freshmen have a limit of two large ensembles they can be a part of (imposed by the School of Music).
How many ensembles are by audition only?
Currently, the Wind Orchestra and Wind Symphony are both auditioned ensembles (as are the Jazz Band and the Symphony Orchestra).
Do I have to be a Music Major or Minor to be in an Ensemble?
No, you do not. All of the Sycamore Bands are open to majors and non-majors alike, pending a successful audition, and some of our ensembles don’t even require an audition. The gist of it is: If you want to make music, we can find an ensemble for you.
Do I need to have my own instrument? (what about Tubas or other large instruments?)
You don’t need to have your own instrument, though many people prefer to use their own, obviously. Indiana State University has a large stock of instruments that can be rented on a semester by semester basis.
What would happen if I were to miss a rehearsal or a performance?
Well, the short answer is: Your grade would suffer. The longer answer is: It depends. Is it an emergency absence? Is there documentation? Are there extenuating circumstances? The question cannot be considered in a vacuum without knowing all the relevant factors. Suffice it to say that, excused or not, you cannot miss a performance and still receive an A.
High School marching band burned me out...why should I do it again in college?
This is a tough one to answer succinctly, but suffice it to say – college marching band is nothing like some of those high-pressure competitive programs that are found in abundance here in Indiana. We are here to entertain, first and foremost. Our goal is to make not only the crowd happy, but ourselves as well; we never have to worry about judges with tape recorders. Most students who came from high-pressure competitive programs and end up marching in the band here at ISU find it a refreshing change of pace. While trophies are great, there is something to be said about making music when there is an intrinsic motivation to be good, instead of an extrinsic one like a shiny medal or a high score.
How does college marching band compare to high school? How many competitions do we perform in?
Collegiate marching bands do not typically enter competitions. The college experience is a different mindset when it comes to marching band – we see it as our job to entertain not only our fans, but also our members. The trade off is that we don’t make huge demands on your time, it doesn’t cost many hundreds of dollars to march in ISUMS, and we won’t be attending competitions every weekend. Over the years, many students who have come from high-pressure competitive programs have found that they enjoy the experience of performing simply for the sake of entertaining the crowd at our football games, instead of pleasing judges with tape recorders.
However – if you live for competition, and find that to be the only way you know how to be in marching band, in all honesty you will not be well served by being in the Marching Sycamores. As a member of the ISU Marching Sycamores, students not only experience the thrill of performing in front of thousands, but they are a part of Indiana State's most active organization where friendships last a lifetime. Most students say their favorite aspect of being in band is the camaraderie, not the shiny medals or trophies. In other words – it is the people you will remember, not whether you placed highly or received a deserving score.
What is the time commitment? Can I balance out my time with work and classes?
You are the only one who can answer that question; however, thousands upon thousands of students have managed to do it over the history of the Marching Sycamores (and hundreds of thousands of students have managed to do it at all university marching bands across the country for many, many years). If they can do it, why can’t you? We rehearse three times a week, MWF for two hours, so you can see the time commitment is not monumental, and the tradeoffs - entertaining thousands of fans, forming tight bonds of friendship with your fellow Sycamores that will last a lifetime, and making great music – are well worth the commitment.
How much does it cost to participate in the Marching Sycamores?
Our ensemble only requires fees to cover casual uniforms, flip folders, and any miscellaneous individual uniform needs for the season (proper marching shoes, white gloves, etc.) The average cost of participating in the Marching Sycamores is just shy of $100 for the season (and can be as low as $60).
I am a Music Ed. major, I’m going to skip Marching Band until my sophomore/junior year. Good idea?
In a nutshell: No. Not participating in marching band your first semester on campus has several consequences that you should be aware of:
1. You will not be eligible for certain leadership positions in the Marching Sycamores (Drum Major, Section Leader, Section Captains, etc.)...ever.
2. I will not be able to, in good conscience, write you a letter of recommendation when it comes to the job search process during your senior year...you will have demonstrated to me that you lack discipline and were unable to meet the challenge of participating in an organization that will teach you quite a bit about your future profession in the music education field.
3. From a playing perspective, it is quite easy to tell the members of the concert ensembles that do not participate in ISUMS during the Fall semester, because the sound output is simply not as focused or strong as many of the members who do participate. This does not mean they are better technical players, better sight readers, or better musicians, per se...all it means is that I have heard the difference quite clearly in the past.
4. You will immediately have a huge circle of friends and peers who will help you navigate the difficulties of a first semester in college. This is an important and underrated facet of being in a group like ISUMS.
5. You will arrive on campus a week before everyone else does, and will already know where everything is.
7. It’s fun. ☺
What if I have a class conflict with marching band practice times?
This happens from time to time, and unless the conflict means you will miss substantial amounts of time, we can make it work. So don’t worry if your class runs 5-10 minutes into rehearsal time, or if you must leave 5-10 minutes early to make your next class. As long as the missed time is not excessive, we are willing to continue the tradition of working with your schedule to help you be a member in good standing.
Is previous marching experience required to participate?
The Marching Sycamores have had plenty of members who did not march in their high school band programs, and they have managed to do great things while a part of our program. Help will always be available if you feel you need it, but in the end – learning to march isn’t exactly rocket science. You will get what you put into it, and if you are willing to work hard on it, no one will be able to tell you didn’t march previously. We all encourage you to give it a try – if you want to participate badly enough, we can make it happen.
If I’ve never marched before what can I do to prepare for band camp?
Honestly – you can practice walking in rhythm. Pop in a set of ear buds, listen to some of your favourite music, and walk around, putting your foot down on each beat (left foot first, on beat one, right foot second, on beat two, and so forth – though this may be slightly more difficult if your favourite music is in a 3/4 meter). ☺ Most of all, don’t sweat it. We will teach you how to march. By the end of band camp, no one will be able to tell you apart from anyone else, depending on how hard you’re willing to work.
Is drill done via coordinate sheet or full drill sheets?
The short answer is both. Coordinate sheets are handed out to every member prior to learning the drill, and full drill charts are given to the leadership team. HOWEVER, you are always welcome to print out a full drill chart if you are more comfortable with that (full drill charts are made available for each show via our DropBox File Center).
Does music have to be memorized?
Some of it. Pre-game music and short cheers to be played in the stands are expected to be memorized by the first home game. However, show music and stands music can be read off sheet music in the required flip folders. Drumline members typically memorize their music, as well. All of the Pre-Game music and the Short Cheers will be made available on DropBox once we have your information – that way you can show up to Band Camp with all your music memorized and show up the older members. ☺
Do I need to use my own instrument?
No, you may rent an instrument from ISU. Instrument rentals are $60 per semester.
How many shows do we learn?
It all depends. Typically, if we have 6 home games in our season, we will try to learn three different shows (again, this will depend on how far apart or close together they are spaced in the schedule). This season we have 5 home games, and will strive to learn 2 different shows, plus maybe a half show incorporating some new music. Generally, each show is performed for two home games before it is “retired.”
How long is the season?
The football season typically runs from early September through mid-November. Our performance responsibilities depend on how many home games there will be in any given year, plus whether or not the Sycamore football team makes the playoffs (and whether we host a playoff game). Last year our season ended 21 November. This year, our season ends 5 November (unless we make the playoffs).
When and where does the band rehearse?
The Marching Sycamores rehearse at Kennedy Field, on the corner of 8th Street and Spruce. We rehearse Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 3:10pm to 5:10pm. If a rehearsal is rained out, the Winds and Percussion meet in Rm. 159 of the Landini Center for the Performing Arts (the Rehearsal Hall), and the Guard meets at the North Gym or Tilson Auditorium. Some of these locations may be modified depending on other departmental needs.
Does the band travel?
Sometimes. We did not travel last year, but are seeking to re-start the tradition of traveling to an away game in the region.
If I'm in marching band in the fall, is it expected that I am a part of basketball band in the spring?
Not at all...we wouldn’t be able to accommodate everyone! However, the Sycamore Basketball Band is its own brand of fun, and allows you to continue playing music at a high level with your friends – while screaming your head off for our teams.
What is the class number?
All members of the Marching Sycamores must register for MUS 109 (freshman and sophomores) or MUS 409 (juniors and seniors).
Do band members get paid or get scholarships?
We are currently working on a marching band stipend thanks to the generous consideration of our University President and our University Provost. As soon as we know a structure for this, we will let you know.
What instruments are used in the marching band?
The Marching Sycamores use the following instruments: Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Trumpet, Mellophone, Trombone, Baritone, Sousaphone, Crash Cymbals, Snare Drum, Quads/Tenor Drums, Bass Drums.
Will this count for my P.E. Foundational Credit?
No, Marching band doesn’t count for PE credit or fine arts credit it counts as a free elective.
What can I work on now to be better for band camp?
You could start memorizing your Pregame music or the Short Cheers (as soon as they are available). You could also keep your “chops” in shape by practicing just a little every day. Even just ten minutes a day will keep you stronger than going weeks without playing. If you don’t have an instrument with you and you are a brass player, you could buzz on your mouthpiece. This will help keep your embouchure strong. If you are a woodwind player, you can do the time-tested traditional “air fingering” of your parts. ☺
Can I get music before band camp starts?
Yes. The Pregame Music, the Short Cheers, Show 1 Music, and many Stands Tunes will be available for you to practice well before Camp begins. Show up knowing your part, and you’ll make the complacent upper classmen jealous.
What do you have against the number six?
I don't know what you are talking about...?
- Fingerless guard gloves (tan-coloured)
- Jazz shoes (black)
- Body Tights (tan or black, with feet and clear straps)
- Make-Up (specified once the show theme is determined, but the basics are black/brown mascara and eyeliner, a specified color of eye shadow, a specified color of lipstick, blush, foundation, and any other make-up the members need to use in order to be uniform)
- Hair products and tools for styling (we usually do a variation of straight or curly hair that requires bobby pins)
- Pierced ears or earring clips if this is not an option (found at most jewelry and tattoo shops)
- Electric Tape (white)
What is the audition process for the Sycamore Guard like?
For returning and new members alike, there will be an evaluation process to determine membership in the Sycamore Color Guard. Auditions will run all day, generally starting at 8:30am with registration and measurements, and ending around 5pm. Please note: Measurements are private information that will not be made public, they are merely used to determine uniform size for fitting purposes.
After registration, there will be stretching and introductions, and then a walk over to the North Gym in the Arena to learn equipment routines and dances. This early process will last until about 12:00pm, at which time there will be a break for lunch (students can provide their own lunch, or they can bring money to buy food in the Commons eating area).
After lunch, the group meets again for a review of what was learned in the morning session, and then the evaluation process begins. The participants will be evaluated individually and in groups, to ensure the most accurate evaluation has been given. A final decision (Membership Roster), including any alternates, will be sent via email between one and two weeks after the Auditions.
Applicants will be able to apply for flag, rifle, or baton (you must provide your own baton if auditioning for this). Applicants auditioning for leadership roles will be given tasks throughout the day in order to evaluate their preparedness for this role. Captains will be announced at the same time as the members and alternates.
What is band camp typically like?
Band camp is 6 days long, and will run from 9:00AM to 9:00PM. The morning rehearsals will be on the practice field, and will run until around roughly noon. There will be water breaks throughout this time. Students will provide their own lunch, water, sunscreen, etc. After lunch, the guard will meet at an indoor location for our sectional rehearsal. This will last until about 4:00PM (or so) each day. We will then have a 1-hour break for dinner before we meet again for our final rehearsal each day.
The evening rehearsal will take place back on the practice field, so students are recommended to reapply sunscreen and to apply bug spray. We will rehearse all that we have learned each day until 9:00PM, and we will end each practice by playing the Fight Song (guard will perform the dance for this as the band plays). The guard will meet briefly to make announcements and dismiss. Then you go home, rehydrate, rest, and repeat!
What type of equipment is used in the Sycamore Guard (and is it provided?)
All equipment will be provided with the exception of batons. This includes poles, weights, stoppers, rifles, and equipment bags. You will be required to use the equipment provided to you, and it is to be treated as a rental. We also provide a zip-up bag for you to store all game-day necessities in. Uniform tops, for the most part, will be provided with the exception of certain items listed separately (under the “What does it cost to be in Guard?” section).
What type of shows does the Sycamore Color Guard typically perform?
Unlike high school marching bands, most collegiate bands put on a few different shows per year, depending on the number of home games. On average, the Marching Sycamores perform 3 shows per season, as well as the Pregame show. Show themes are often designed to entertain our audience and appeal to a football crowd, not a panel of judges. Music is often recognizable, exciting, and entertaining, so you can expect to march to a wide range of music from 70s Rock to 80s Pop to 90s Grunge and anything else you can imagine, including Broadway Show Tunes, Disney Soundtracks, and more!
What does it cost to be in the Sycamore Guard?
Membership costs for the Guard tend to be minimal because many of the necessary items are provided. There is no membership fee, but there are a few costs associated with the purchase of necessary pieces of the uniforms. You can find a list of the items below, and they can be purchased from many online retailers.
Items that you will need to purchase:
Optional purchases will also include the official ISU Color Guard jacket (roughly $50), and black jazz pants and capris (these are provided, but you are welcome to purchase your own once they are approved by the coach).
What is a typical weekend like when there is a game?
We will meet at the Stadium in partial uniform around 8:00am (or later, dependant on kickoff time). We will have a brief rehearsal (warm-up; basics; run-through of the show), and then we will take our equipment to our room. After a short break, the Band (including us!) line up to do the Team March (leading the football team to their locker room while playing/performing to the school song).
We will then eat lunch (provided for us) and get into full uniform (correct outfit on; make-up performance-ready; jewelry out; tattoos covered; equipment ready). After a brief set of performances at various tailgating stations, we make our way onto the field and perform the Pregame show, after which we will march off the field, return our equipment to our room, grab our pompoms, and take our position in the stands. The first two quarters will consist of us dancing with our pom-poms to the stand tunes the Band plays, until about 11 minutes are left in the second quarter.
We will use this time to touch up our make-up and warm up for the halftime show. We will perform for halftime, return our equipment to our room, and return to our section of the stands to continue dancing to the stand tunes. At the end of the game, we will play the fight song and the Alma Mater. Then, we go home!
When is band camp?
You will find all necessary dates under our Event Calendar, and a summary of these dates on our Marching Sycamores area page.
Is housing available during band camp? Can I move into my dorm before camp?
Housing will be available for any and all students living on campus during the fall semester. Unfortunately, there is NO housing available for commuter students that simply do not want to make the trip back and forth every day. Your best bet might be to ask friends in the band if you can crash at their place, or rent a hotel room (friends are less expensive and more fun than hotel rooms).
What about food? I've heard that dining credits don't start until classes start...
You are correct, but there is no need to fear. You will be provided with a meal card that can be used during band camp.
What happens during band camp?
Band Camp is where the fun begins – this is where we learn how to march and play together in the same style, learn the Pregame routine (and Show 1 if we can get to it), play through possible Stands music, and in general, it is a time to get to know some of the people around you who will be in your life for many years to come.
What do I need to bring to Band Camp?
The items you would expect...after all, we will be spending some time outside in the sun, and some time indoors in music rehearsals. You can't go wrong bringing, sunblock, sunglasses, a baseball cap or other hat, shorts (we do not recommend long pants), light, breathable clothes in general (dark colours are not a good choice), sneakers or cross trainers (absolutely no flip flops or any shoe that does not have a reinforced heel), a water bottle, and of course, your instrument (and a lyre and flip folder if applicable to you). Be sure to check your Newsletter for Theme Days and plan accordingly, it adds that much more fun to Band Camp!
Who can participate in the Sycamore Basketball Band?
Any student who is enrolled at Indiana State University and plays piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, mellophone, trombone, baritone, sousaphone, or drumset, is eligible to participate. The band has members representing majors from early every discipline on campus.
Are there auditions for the ensemble?
Depends. If you are a wind player and you participate in the Marching Sycamores in the Fall, there is no audition for entry into the Sycamore Basketball Band. If you are not in marching band, I won’t know how you play, therefore you will have to audition for the group. Additionally, the drumset spot is by audition only. These auditions typically take place in early October.
Do I need to have been in marching band to participate in basketball band?
No, but you WILL have to audition (if you were not in Marching Band, I won’t know how you play, therefore the audition). Keep in mind that preference will always be given to those that have participated in the Marching Sycamores, so if we find ourselves with an overabundance of piccolos for Basketball Band one year, we will most likely only take those that also put in the time to be in the Marching Band.
Will I need to bring my own instrument?
Either that, or you can rent one (check under the General Information answers for instructions on how to rent an instrument from ISU).
Will I need to purchase anything for this band?
At the moment, we are trying to work out a plan whereby we can provide your uniforms for free. If we cannot do so, you may have to pay a small fee for your uniform (whatever it ends up being), but it will not “break your bank.”
Will I have time to participate in the Sycamore Basketball Band?
Only you know your own schedule, and are best positioned to make that decision, but in a nutshell...YES! Many of our members have heavy academic loads and have been quite able to manage all the responsibility without issue. It's all part of being an adult. Do bear in mind, you won't have to participate in every game (we have a block system that draws from a pool of performers), which gives you some flexibility. Also keep in mind that we will be done with regular rehearsals by mid-February, or whenever the music has been worked through.
Is being a member of the Sycamore Basketball Band fun?
It is indeed! Where else can you play fun music ranging from Heavy Metal to Arena Rock to Synthpop to Hip Hop to Funk, all while yelling your head off for your team? Basketball games at the Hulman Center are a pretty rowdy affair, and the band brings much energy and fun to each contest.
Is the Sycamore Basketball Band a class?
Yes, all members of the Sycamore Basketball Band must be registered for the class (MUS 169B/369B). Students receive 1 credit hour for this course, though a 0-credit hour option is available for students who have maximized their credit allotment.
What is the class number?
All members of the Sycamore Basketball Band must register for MUS 169B (freshman and sophomores) or MUS 369B (juniors and seniors).
When does basketball season begin and when does it end?
The basketball season typically begins in mid- to late November and ends in mid-March. The band will play all home games save for a handful that occur over holiday breaks, and will play at all post-season tournaments (Missouri Valley Conference tournaments, NIT Tournament, NCAA Tournament) if qualified. This will involve traveling and overnight stays at the tournament sites. All travel expenses are covered by the Athletic Department.
How do I join?
Contact us and let us know what instrument you play, and you'll be placed on a list to send information to once Fall audition dates and rehearsal times become available.
Can I rent an instrument from the School of Music?
Yes, our instrument repair department rents instruments to students (maximum of 3) each semester. Instrument rentals are $60 per semester. Email our instrument repair technician, Kelly Fallon (Kelly.Fallon@indstate.edu), with any further questions.
Are instrument storage lockers available?
Yes, you may reserve an instrument locker with our instrument repair technician, Kelly Fallon, at the beginning of each semester. You must have a combination/keyed lock to securely store your instrument in the locker. Lockers are required to be emptied and cleaned by the end of finals week each semester.