Student blog offers insight into life of Baylor bands

By Kayla Reeves

What began as a student’s class project turned into a way to draw attention to the Golden Wave Marching Band and Courtside Players.

When Marlene Neill, lecturer in the department of journalism, public relations and new media, told her students to create a blog about a topic they were familiar with, Tyler junior Brenna Middleton knew she wanted to write about the band.

Middleton has played trumpet in a band since sixth grade and was a drum major in high school. She has been in Baylor’s bands for three years. Life in the band is a topic she knows and loves.

Of collegiate bands, Middleton said the atmosphere was more fun than that of a high school band.

“A lot of people in junior high or high school band are in it because their parents want them to be or so they can put it on their transcript. In college, you’re not in it if you don’t want to be,” she said.

Dr. Rick Espinosa, assistant director of the Golden Wave Marching Band, said the close friendships students make in band are a reason why many people love participating.

“Our job is to enhance the football atmosphere, but that’s not always the primary reason why people join the band,” he said. “It’s the camaraderie that exists. The shared experiences that they go through really bond them.”

Middleton said playing in a band is not just a hobby, but a way of life for some people.

“It’s how a lot of kids have found their place at Baylor,” she said. “You have 250 friends out there with you [when marching].”

Middleton’s blog includes photos and her commentary about all things band-related. She has written about the band’s summer leadership retreat and traditions of “Band Week,” when the new members meet, as well as the band’s responsibilities during football games and while marching.

“It does a great job of explaining to the public what it is we do as a marching band,” Espinosa said. “Folks don’t always know how challenging it is to get such a large operation moving.”

Dr. Isaiah Odajima, director of the Golden Wave Band, said he agreed the blog was a good representation of the band experience, although some aspects of band life are not included because the blog is still new.

Espinosa said he believes websites like blogs, social networking sites and YouTube are becoming more important for publicity than the band’s actual website. The Golden Wave Band has a Facebook page that provides exposure, he said, and their YouTube video of the band doing a flash mob at halftime has more than 50,000 views.

Middleton said she never expected her blog to get any attention, but it might benefit the band.

“There aren’t that many students in band, so if I could give people a small glimpse of the behind-the-scenes world, that would be cool,” she said. “It would be good for people to see if they decide to join band.”

Middleton said her efforts will continue.

“I guess I am a journalist at the end of the day,” Middleton said, “I like to get my stuff out, but it never occurred to me that anybody would care about it. I only had to do three posts for class, but I’ll have to keep it up now.”