Eight The University of Olivet Marching Comets hit the national stage this January, including Savanna Baughan ’24, color guard; Grace Forbush ’21, color guard; Laura Fox ’23, drum major; Carsten Gregersen ’22, mellophone; Victoria Herson ’22, baritone; Tori John ’21, baritone saxophone; Kaytlynne Morris ’22, percussion; and Makennah Rousseau ’21, clarinet. These outstanding students were selected to perform in the virtual College Band Director’s National Association Intercollegiate Marching Band (IMB), which debuted live during the college football national championship game.
The ensemble included 1600 students from 200 collegiate band programs from across the country. The group performed Beyonce’s “End of Time,” arranged by Michigan’s own Scott Boerma. For many participants, the opportunity to play with a national marching band reinvigorated their love of music and reinforced the importance of music today.
Drum major and sophomore Laura Fox began leading the band last fall. She is a history major with minors in political science and sociology and anthropology, and she has enjoyed her college experience so much she hopes to one day become a college professor. The opportunity to play with the IMB marked a special occasion for Laura, as it was the first time she donned the Marching Comets drum major uniform.
“Uniforms are such a signature part of marching band, and I didn’t realize how much they added to the feeling of pride and excitement that comes with marching band. It made me excited to get back out onto the football field with a traditional marching show, back in full uniform and with the thrill of game day,” Laura said.
“The IMB experience showed me how big the marching band community truly is. Having been to numerous camps and competitions for band, I’ve met many different members of different marching bands across the country. Seeing everyone on screen, however, was striking as it presented so many individuals from a wide range of programs in a new way. This reaffirmed to me not only how big, but how connected the marching band community really is.”
Junior Carsten Gregersen has been playing the mellophone for 10 years. He’s an actuarial science and mathematics double major with a goal to become a professional actuary, but he also holds a music minor. In addition to his career plans, Carsten hopes to offer music lessons to youth in his community as a way to share his passion for music and spread joy.
“Being invited to this performance was a great honor, and I was able to take away that although we may not be able to gather, we can still come together to create an amazing spectacle,” Carsten said. “Music is one of the largest aspects of my life. Whether it be in-person or through the Internet, music brings out so many emotions in our lives and can make the difference between an average day and an amazing day.”
Junior and music major Victoria Herson echoed Carsten’s view on music. She hopes to use her talents playing the baritone to serve the U.S. Army as a musician.
“My favorite part of this experience was playing along with the recording when I had to record my own part. I enjoyed feeling like part of an ensemble again,” Victoria said. “Music can make an impact on our world by just being in the background of the chaos. No matter what major events are occurring, whether good or bad, music is there to boost morale and overall happiness. We need music to be present in our lives because it helps motivate us to keep moving forward in life. Musicians need to take every opportunity they can to play because music is so much more than the notes on the page.”
Senior Tori John is an exercise science major and plans to become a prosthetic technician, but she’s already looking forward to staying connected with music through community bands and ensembles. Tori was drawn to the Marching Comets as a small band with a tight-knit family feel, and she hopes that music can also help bring together the listening community.
“Music is a unique experience for every individual who listens. It helps connect us through barriers such as language, physical location and distance,” Tori emphasized. “Now, when distance is becoming a more prevalent barrier, music is there to remind us of the things that we hold so important in our lives. It was fulfilling to know that I was able to contribute to something that will hopefully continue for the coming years.”
For Laura, the experience also reinforced her decision to join a college marching band. She hopes the next generation of students will follow their passion and continue to spread joy, positivity and hope through their music.
“Joining the Marching Comets was one of the best decisions I have made in my college career. After high school, I was so certain that my days in band were over. But, after talking to Mr. Duby in the winter of my senior year, I decided to give college marching band a try,” Laura explained. “I have learned so much about how to become a better musician, I was afforded a wonderful opportunity to learn about leadership and conducting, and I have found an incredible support system through the band and Mr. Duby. Coming from someone who almost didn’t do marching band in both high school and college, I’m so thankful I decided to join the marching band community as it has made me who I am today.”
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or firstname.lastname@example.org.