BMBye-Bye; A farewell to college marching band.

‘What a Wonderful World’ it is to be in marching band.

Leah Pflaum

More stories from Leah Pflaum

Cinephiles
November 2, 2022
Check+out+the+official+Blugold+Marching+Band+website+for+information+on+performances+and+applications+for+the+2023+season.

Check out the official Blugold Marching Band website for information on performances and applications for the 2023 season.

The moment has come when I take off my marching uniform for the very last time in my life. I still struggle to unzip my jacket and take off my marching pants, trying not to unsnap the buttons at the bottom that have allowed them to reach my feet without touching the floor. 

This past week on Nov. 12 at Carson Park, I marched my last field show with the Blugold Marching Band, also referred to as the BMB, and it has brought on many different emotions. 

If you were to tell 18-year-old me, that by the age of 23 she would have completed her fourth year with a college marching band of over 400 people, she would have laughed in your face. 

I came from a very small town in southeastern Minnesota, where the closest thing to marching band my school had was when my senior year band class walked around the perimeter of my whole school about four times, playing our school song on repeat. 

So in essence — there was no marching band. 

In my freshman year at UW-Eau Claire, I befriended many people who were in the BMB. They all told me about the fun things they had been doing with the marching band, such as traveling and having people around the community cheer them on at football games. 

At first, I was extremely nervous to apply for the 2019 season. I felt that I did not have the skills needed to march in a coordinated show as I had never done it in my prior eight years of band experience. To be honest, I thought they were going to kick me out by the end of band camp.

Come band camp of summer 2019, I showed up on day one, not knowing what to expect. Would they have expected me to be able to march professionally by lunchtime? Everything had been happening so fast and I just thought to myself — what had I gotten myself into?

Many thoughts run through my head. Why are they having us march around in a box? Are there really this many marching fundamentals? I truly felt behind in it all as everyone else seemed to be doing it all effortlessly. 

Flash forward to the present, and I have officially completed four years with the band, including our unusual COVID-19 year of fall 2020 where the band was split in three and we couldn’t march at football games. 

Being a part of this organization has given me many opportunities I never would have imagined, including marching on the fields of two professional football teams which were the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium and the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium

This last show brought warmth to my soul even if I didn’t feel the same warmth in the rest of my body due to the low temperature. 

My favorite tradition of the BMB is that at the end of every performance, whether marching or not, we all get together to sing “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armtstrong. And this past performance had to be my all-time favorite version.

For the first time, I had been facing the rest of the band in singing. This was very significant to me because it allowed for a mutual singing of gratitude for the graduating seniors and the people who are staying to sing to one another to thank them for the memories. 

But my favorite part of it all that made me appreciate the beauty of the moment was when a flock of geese flew over us while singing. The imagery, as well as the collective singing, was genuinely breathtaking and brought out the emotion of the singing. 

I give the biggest thank-you in the world to everyone that made my marching experience truly unforgettable. Every member, every manager, every drum major and every supporter has made me come back year after year. There are not enough words of gratitude I can say.

They took a nervous college sophomore who had never marched in her life and turned her into someone who had conditioned herself to march in time to the beat of her music playing in her headphones across campus, for no purpose other than it was fun. 

If you ever get the chance to check out the Blugold Marching Band in person at one of their field shows in future seasons, I cannot recommend it enough as I can guarantee you will be in for an incredible show.

Pflaum can be reached at [email protected].