A glimpse into the life of Blugold Marching Band members

UW-Eau Claire students talk about their experience with the band

Taylor Reisdorf

More stories from Taylor Reisdorf

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March 25, 2020

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

The BMB performs at home football games and at other events during the fall.

It’s hard to go to UW-Eau Claire without hearing the Blugold Marching Band (BMB) practice at least once. It doesn’t take much for the group of about 350 performing students to get the attention of their audience. There are flags swirling, drums booming, trumpets blaring, batons flying and dance moves being busted out by all.

Fifth-year music education student Jake Esterberg and sophomore psychology student Jacob Schuelke, are just two of the many musicians who were drawn to Eau Claire because of the BMB. In their eyes, being a part of the ensemble is an experience like no other.

Esterberg is a transfer student who started at Eau Claire in the spring of 2016. While the main reason for his transfer was Eau Claire’s Music Education program, the BMB also played a large role in his decision.

He said the BMB “stuck out” in comparison to other school marching bands. Esterberg particularly enjoys the fact the band has fun with their performances and keeps the audience engaged by playing songs they know.

Schuelke said in addition to the BMB, the “beautiful” campus and fairly short drive from his hometown near the Twin Cities also aided in his choice.

He said the group has “really become a big part of my life, it’s something I’m known for … it’s something I tell everyone about. I love it.”

While it’s only his second year in the BMB and second year at Eau Claire, Esterberg earned the title of drumline captain. This means he facilitates and runs the rehearsals and writes the music the drumline performs.

This is also Schuelke’s second round with the marching band. He is a trumpet soloist and rank lieutenant, which means he acts “like a squad leader” for a small trumpet section.

Esterberg finds being a part of the BMB  “stressful at times,” but overall he loves it. Involvement is time-consuming, with practices every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:15-5:30 p.m.

While BMB takes up a lot of time, there is still room for Esterberg and Schuelke to partake in other hobbies.

Although Esterberg finds he’ll “spend most of (his) life in Haas,” he also said he teaches a high school marching band and enjoys writing other music.

Additionally, he partakes in a few other campus organizations such as The Percussive Arts Society and the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He also is involved with three additional ensembles on campus.

Schuelke said he enjoys playing the ukelele, singing, spending time with his family, hunting, fishing and being outdoors.

The BMB performs at football games among other campus events, is featured at contest exhibitions and receives invitations to perform at a variety of other off-campus occasions. Both Esterberg and Schuelke said the Eau Claire football games are the best events to perform at.

Esterberg said he finds it “really fun” to perform in front of his peers and lives for the “audience reaction.”

“It’s just so weird because I’ve never been to a school where people love the marching band,” Esterberg said.

Schuelke said he enjoys the atmosphere of being and performing at the football games.

“We’re in the stands, we’re yelling the entire time,” he said.

This year, the BMB has three songs, two of which are medleys.

Esterberg enjoys performing “Kiss You” by One Direction, he said.

“It’s so much fun to play. Everybody gets really into it and everybody screams ‘booty’ right before we play,” he said.

“Talk Dirty to Me” by Jason Derulo is Schuelke’s favorite, he said.

“We play that song,” Schuelke said, “and we just go wild.”

Both students said they feel they’ve accomplished and learned a lot through their involvement with BMB. The memories they’ve made are already plentiful, with more to be formed.