No detail too small as Laker Marching Band gets ready for first show

The Laker Marching Band rehearses.
The Laker Marching Band rehearses.
Image Credit: Tony Packer

Getting the 215 members of the Laker Marching Band ready for their first home game on Sept. 7 and the entire season is at times a painstaking step-by-step process.

Make that step by half-inch step.

"The back foot is a 22 1/2-inch step from the yard line," Director John Martin tells the band members as he oversees them during drills on a hot and humid morning.

On this day, they would get a visit from President Philomena V. Mantella, who enthusiastically responded to a musical welcome featuring the drumline — her hand in "Anchor Up" formation — before telling the band, "The legacy of your leadership and what you mean to this university is legendary."

But before that pep talk, there was work to do during band camp, work that involved a minute attention to detail relayed through Martin's microphone from his elevated perch at the South Campus practice field. Posture. Horn angles. The proper angle for facing the student section. You're turning on what part of the foot? Make sure that step has snap. "Own your drill."

And a reminder: Everyone is family. Help your fellow band members get it right.

"It all starts with fundamentals," Martin said later. "Once the band starts to look the same, you have a product and you start polishing."

Martin, faculty and staff members and student leaders are working to mold band members into a unit that is solidly prepared for the pride and excitement of the first game -- Martin calls it "the payoff."

Student leadership plans the shows in the spring and there's a new one for every home football game. They could simply do one or two a year, Martin said, but he likes to keep it fresh.

That means that before band members even perform their first halftime show of the season, they'll start drills for the second show.

The 2019 halftime show schedule can be seen here.