Meet The UMN Marching Band: Amy Devins, Color Guard

Nov 19, 2019

The 58th Annual Marching Band Indoor Concert is quickly approaching on Nov 23-24 at Northrop. In anticipation of the performance, we asked five University of Minnesota Marching Band (UMMB) members a few questions to delve more into the experiences of and process behind the Pride of Minnesota.

In this interview, color guard member Amy Devins (pictured in the center with Julie Weber '19 on the right and Michaela Bruder '20 on the left) reflects on all things color guard for us “NIBs” (not in band, as they call us), along with managing schoolwork, and performing at the 2019 Super Bowl appearance with Justin Timberlake.

Tell us a bit about your role in the band.
I am a part of the color guard. We are part of the visual aspect of the Marching Band, along with the twirlers and the drum major. We spin flags, rifles and we are adding sabers for the first time at the Indoor Concert!

When did you initially get into color guard? Did you always see yourself in a marching band?
I got into guard my senior year of high school. My good friend Mary was going to be the captain and the band was going to the Outback Bowl in Florida which they only do one every four years. She convinced me to join after I didn’t make the volleyball team. After senior year I knew that I wanted to continue marching band in college, that’s one of the big reasons why I chose the U and it’s the best choice I could have made.

We understand the Marching Band includes students from more than 100 different majors. What is your major?
I am a psychology BS major.

How do you manage rehearsals, performances, etc while also playing the role as student?
It can be hard sometimes, especially when we have band 6 days a week during game weeks. I am a major procrastinator so I make sure that when there is a game I prep in advance with homework and projects, knowing that my entire Saturday is going to be band-related. In my major (psychology) there is a lot of reading involved so I read whenever I can, including during meals.

Can you reflect a bit on the process of preparing for an event or performance?
For a typical game we have two weeks to learn the show. It starts on Monday with pregame auditions. Although everyone is in the show, because of the way our pregame show is made, there aren’t enough spots for the whole band in main block, so we audition for spots. From then on we split our practices into three parts: music, halftime, pregame. The Thursday right before the game we do a full run of the pregame show to find any issues, by Friday before a game we do a full run of halftime to find issues. We then go over issues on Saturday morning before the game.

What is a typical game day like for you?
On game days, the color guard has a longer day than the band. A typical game day usually lasts about 11 to 12 hours from when we start rehearsal to when we finish post game.

Here’s a breakdown from the recent 11:00 am Penn State game:

5:00 am: Color guard arrives and rehearses
6:00 am: Marching Band arrives, we warm up together and go over any issues
7:30 am: We’re done and can go get breakfast. Then we head back to the stadium to get ready in the rehearsal room with hair, makeup, and of course, music to hype us up. The guard goes outside a little earlier than the band for inspection to make sure we have our choreography is ready.
9:30 am: Inspection, where the leaders make sure everyone's hair, makeup, uniform, and equipment is at the standard it needs to be. After inspection we have a hype up speech from our drum major Chamberlain before going to the Gopher spirit rally (a small performance in front of Mariucci). For the Gopher spirit rally, we march over to Mariucci and do a few songs and then march around the rest of TCF.
10:45 am: The band is lined up in the tunnels for our pregame show. This is where we usually get to see the team run inside and P.J. Fleck give our drum major a high five and hug at every game. After we do our pregame show we warm up inside for a few minutes and then go immediately back out into the stands where we stay until halftime.
Post-Halftime: After we perform at halftime, we get to go inside again to warm up and have our post-halftime apple snack that we always get. Then we go back up into the stands until the end of the game. We then perform a post game show down on the field for a few songs before we get released to change and go home.

What is your favorite part about being in the band?
My favorite part of band is the atmosphere. We work really hard to make each and every show the very best it can be. It can be tiring but yet somehow we all have an amazing time. Everyone is there by choice and it shows. We get to have fun while working hard.

Were you involved in the Justin Timberlake Super Bowl appearance? If so, how was that experience?
Yes I was, and it was an amazing experience. It was very different from our normal band practices––half of the band didn’t even play instruments! For me personally, it was just like going to a choreographed Justin Timberlake concert. By the time we actually got to the Super Bowl we had done it so many times that it just seemed like another rehearsal, especially because we couldn’t see the crowd. It wasn’t until I was able to watch the show back and point myself out that I was able to realize how amazing of an experience it had been.

Are you going to the 2020 Rose Bowl?
Hopefully! Knock on wood!

Do you have a favorite song to perform?
Most songs we only do once in a halftime show and then at the end of the year at the Indoor Concert, but a favorite of mine is Sing Sing Sing. It’s super upbeat, has lots of energy, and the guard gets to do a dance at the beginning.

How do you perform when it’s so cold at games??
It gets really hard. The guard has to be uniform, meaning that we have to wear the exact same warm gear during performances. At the beginning of the year, we order gloves with grips on the palms and headbands for every single member to wear during performances. If one person forgets it or doesn’t have it for some reason, no one can wear them!

What is something that a non-Marching Band civilian would be most shocked to know about the Marching Band?
Well first off, we call non-band members “NIBs” aka “not in band.” One thing NIBs would be shocked to know is the amount of extra time the guard rehearses outside of the band’s normal weekly rehearsal schedule. The guard has a three hour sectional on wednesday nights from 7-10 pm where we learn most of our choreography for the show. We also start an hour earlier than the band on Saturday mornings. If we are really struggling with the show, we might even work for half an hour after practice on Fridays. When we start rehearsing for the Indoor Concert, we have even more extra rehearsals for individual parts of the guard feature.

What are you most looking forward to with the 58th Annual Indoor Marching Band Concert?
I’m looking forward to the performance we do outside on Northrop’s plaza after the shows. It is super relaxed as these are our last performances of the year and everyone is just having fun.

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