Journey to the Notre Dame Marching Band

Author: Savannah Carr

Savannah Carr Headshot

Being a part of the Notre Dame Marching Band might be my favorite thing about this University. I know this is a bold claim, so let me start at the beginning.

On December 6th, 2002, I was born at 3:30 p.m., and my parents … Wait. Sorry, this is too far back. Let's start at middle school …

My dad played the alto saxophone throughout his high school and college years, so he encouraged me to join the band. Being my rebellious self in the sixth grade, I didn’t want to listen to him, so I went the whole year without joining. However, during this time, I saw the band practicing after school, playing in the winter concert, and marching along the Miami Lakes streets during the Veterans Day Parade. I’ll admit, I felt like I was missing out. So, during seventh grade, I officially added Band 1 to my class schedule. After going back and forth for some time and talking to my band director (as well as getting advice from my dad), I decided to give the clarinet a try! Since I was in the beginning band class, I was in a room with a bunch of 6th graders, but I was able to bond with them, and make lots of new friends. 

In high school, I made the decision to join the marching and concert band. Lots of band kids from my middle school also went to my high school, so it was nice coming into a new environment already knowing some people, but I still wanted to branch out. I loved to talk with the other students in the woodwind section, and many of them are still my friends today! One of my favorite parts about the marching band was attending competitions and learning the music for our shows! Each year, we performed a different marching band show, and some of the fun themes included 1984, Inception, and Tales of a Traveler! Living in Florida, we also always went to concerts and band events in Orlando, and even had a fun trip to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure! Since I was so passionate about the program, I also ran for leadership positions, and became a librarian sophomore year, the administrative officer junior year, and the drum major senior year. Even though it was stressful sometimes, I truly enjoyed my band experience in high school, so I wanted to continue in college.

As soon as I got into Notre Dame (back in March 2020), one of the clarinet section leaders reached out to me and asked if I wanted to chat with her! I felt so special, since I was a high school senior doing online school (due to COVID), yet was talking to a junior in college about all things band and Notre Dame. I actually wasn’t even sure if I was going to audition for the band, since I felt like my clarinet skills weren't up to par, but after talking to the section leader (shoutout to you, Eileen!!), I’m so happy that I decided to send in my audition. 

Because of COVID last year, we did not have a normal marching band season. The band was split into two, so I didn’t even know half of the section! However, the people that I did interact with were so incredibly nice, and we truly made the most of it while standing six feet apart. From last season, my favorite memory would probably be attending the Clemson game and defeating the top-ranked team in the country! The whole game was so stressful to watch, especially during the last two overtimes. It was so hard to keep my emotions bottled up! Luckily we did win, and hearing the stadium roar with excitement as we played the Victory March was unreal! We were not allowed to rush the field after the team had won, but we still managed to experience that surreal feeling. It was easily the best sporting event I had ever gone to, and I’m so happy that all the students were also there to experience it!

In regards to school, I appreciate that the band is always a safe haven for me. I know that at 6:30 p.m., I can make music with my friends without thinking about my exam the next day. Even though it can be very time-consuming, you learn how to manage your time better and ensure that you get your assignments done by their deadlines. The connections you make also strengthen your network, and band kids study all types of things, not just music. You can have a trombone player tutor you in chemistry or even land an interview due to a piccolo player’s connections. Being in the band allows you to branch out and learn from people studying many different disciplines, and I think that's also a great reason to join the band!

If you are considering joining the band in college, I would highly recommend it. Even if you feel like you can't play or march well enough, the upperclassmen will teach you everything you need to know. In the band and at Notre Dame in general, we all uplift each other and work together to reach a common goal--whether that be to get an A in physics or to learn how to march and play your instrument. This is not a place for competition, it's a place for union and to form connections. I’m truly pleased with my band experience thus far, and I cannot wait to continue making memories with this amazing program. Good luck with your application process, and I hope to see you on campus soon! Go Irish!