The Sacramento State marching band is hitting their final week of preparation before the Homecoming game halftime performance.
Clay Redfield, also known as “Dr. R” to many, is the director of the band and has been working nonstop with his colleagues on creating the perfect performance since the end of the last school year.
The process of writing the music and movements of the performance entails long hours of revisions and development from the moment school ends until the next academic year begins.
Drill designer Gerry Willis, brass/wind director Glenn Disney, and percussion arranger Josh Luedtke work the closest with Redfield on the production of the performances.
“We’ll start trying to plan it as soon as the season ends. We try to shoot for around spring break, making that decision and then we’ll write all spring and through the summer, and its still an ongoing process of revision and developing the program right through the season,” Redfield said.
When creating the performance, Redfield and the staff shoot for high quality of music, while keeping things entertaining. Along with the experience of the audience, the experience of the members is important too.
“We really hope that our members get a great life experience out of it as well as a really good performance experience, that they grow as musicians and performers,” Redfield said.
Senior music education major David Heredia Jr. is one of three student directors called drum majors on the marching band. He likes to think of the band as his extended family.
“We are like a huge, big family here. This is where I relax, this is where I have my fun with all my friends, and all my family are here playing some great music and having a lot of fun,” Heredia Jr. said.
Redfield believes this program is unique in a sense that they have student directors leading the performances, instead of the actual director of the department running the show. This close interaction of students and the requirement of leadership help members grow and obtain experience for future careers.
“It’s kind of a unique organization because it is a large performing ensemble in the music department, but also kind of functions as an organization in the university, kind of like a club in a sense,” Redfield said.
Demetrius Riley is a senior chemistry major and is one of the drum majors that functions as a student director for the band. Riley said this program is an outlet for him to express himself.
“They give all of us an opportunity to show our creativity and be apart of something bigger then ourselves, and that’s what I really appreciate,” Riley said.
Rebecca Miles, the third drum major for the marching band, describes the Homecoming performance as having a jazz feel. The three songs that will be featured in the halftime show will be Gonna Fly Now, Conquistador and Bugle Boy.
Miles believes the band is ready for their performance; they want to make both the crowd and music department proud.
“We do a lot of preparation for this, this is one of the biggest times we are going to have the most people looking at us, and it’s really important for us to portray not just the marching band itself but the music department in a positive manner and that’s what we do,” Miles said.
The band has a total of 171 members, a much larger number than when Redfield first came into this program five years ago. It has been a goal of the music department to expand and grow this program and it is proving to be a success.
“We have a lot of different goals for the organization. Our biggest goal since I came here five years ago was to re- ally develop the organization and we’ve developed it from 27 members at our first rehearsal to 170 this year, so growth and building the quality and size of the group was really important to us,” Redfield said.
The expansion of the marching band has created a foundation where many students become close friends through bonding during practices. The band spends a lot of hours together practicing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:30 to 5:50 p.m.
Not only does the band commit long hours during the week, but on performance days they are the first ones at the field, and the last ones gone. Equipment set up, performance practice, tailgating and the game are a few of the many parts of the puzzle that the band puts into game days.
“It’s a long day but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Heredia Jr. said.