It’s the start of a new tradition: Starting this fall, Wichita State will have a marching band, “The Shocker Sound Machine”.
This is not your traditional marching band synonymous with football. Shocker Sound Machine (SSM) will be fast-moving, high-energy and more akin to performances by Drum Corps International.
The new band will include brass, saxophone and a drum line.
“This ensemble will be about entertainment,” says Tim Shade, director of bands in the School of Music. “Imagine exciting, energetic, high-octane performances. That is what we are looking to create.”
The band will perform predominantly during WSU basketball games, as well as other athletics and big student events. The goal is to grow to 200 band members, says Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, director of the School of Music.
There will likely be plenty of overlap between members of SSM and the already existing Shocker Sound band, which plays in the stands during athletics and other campus events. Auditions for both bands will take place in September. Students do not need to be music majors to participate.
Sternfeld-Dunn says each year WSU misses out on the talents of potential students who participated in – and fell in love with – their high school marching bands.
But not anymore. Now WSU can provide that option for students.
“Music education majors need that experience so that they can teach marching band effectively, and nonmajors want the comradery that the marching band provided for them in high school,” he says.
In the first year, there will be minimal cost to students in the band, such as the cost of a pair of athletic shoes or pants. In its second year, students will have to enroll in a 1-credit course to participate. Scholarships for up to 100 students will be available in the 2019-20 school year.
“There is a huge amount of excitement among our faculty and the alumni we have spoken to,” Sternfeld-Dunn says. “So many people have understood that this has been missing from WSU since we closed down our football program.”
This expansion of WSU’s band program has the potential to create a cohort that develops a sense or trust, unity, teamwork and dependability.
“For students struggling through their classes, they know they have a group of people who care for them and want to see them succeed,” he says. “I think you will see students who would never have considered WSU giving us a real look because we were missing this educational component.”
Interested students can email Shade at [email protected].