…And the Band Marched On!

by Mary Mijares, Phonez ’17, Drum Major ’20

The 2020 season for the Cal Band was unlike any other. As an organization that is dependent on being together physically, whether it be marching during halftime shows or rehearsing music altogether, transitioning into a virtual format proved to be a challenge that required some innovation, frequent Zoom meetings, and a lot of California Spirit. How did it all come together?

Virtual Performances

In lieu of the typical, in-person halftime show performances, the Cal Band decided that it would do something different but just as fun and uplifting to watch. This fall, the Band decided to create virtual halftime shows composed of three main components: audio clips, video clips, and a “charted” field show the Band would have marched in an in-person setting. Below is the process for putting together all of Cal Band’s virtual performances: 

Show Themes: Each spring, members of the Cal Band are encouraged to submit halftime show ideas that can be performed during the fall season. Among this year’s chosen shows were “Nickelodeon Nostalgia,” composed of prominent theme songs from the TV shows Drake & Josh and iCarly, “Party of the Decade,” planned in close partnership with Cal Alumni Band, and “Elements,” inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

Audio Clips: Cal Band Director Matthew Sadowski and the Musical Activities Committee (MAC) arranged all three shows using the music composition computer program Sibelius. Parts were then distributed to the entire band, and members recorded and submitted individual audio clips. These clips were then combined and mixed by the MAC and other student volunteers to emulate an in-person music performance.

Video Clips: Members of the Cal Band were also encouraged to submit video clips to be compiled into one big video filled with transitions, effects, and multiple cultural references. These clips consisted of members playing their instruments, dancing, and having fun! The STUNT Committee, typically in charge of the creation of halftime shows for the band, took the role of envisioning the video creation process. Alongside other student volunteers, STUNT was tasked with video editing and embedding the final audio into the video. 

Charted Field Show: As mentioned previously, in a typical, in-person setting, the STUNT Committee would be tasked with creating halftime shows to be marched by the Cal Band. Using Cal Chart, a computer program created and maintained by Band members for decades, the STUNT Committee continued to create these field shows to showcase the members’ creativity.

Go bears, beat the odds! 

In addition to the three virtual performances, the Cal Band has continued to create a strong sense of community among members as it transitioned into a virtual setting. Through various online events held by members of the Band ranging from Yoga bondings, planned dead-week Study sessions, trivia, gameplay, and section-specific bondings, the Cal Band remains an open and inviting space for all members. With the click of a Zoom link, any member can partake in any of these events in whatever part of the world they’re in. 

Additionally, the Cal Band continues to have an active social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and have even piloted their own Podcast, “Beyond the Uniform: A Cal Band Podcast,” where you can listen to the experiences of members during a virtual semester. 
And so, despite the Fall 2020 season being entirely online, the Cal Band was able to cultivate a strong sense of community, perform together, and prove that the Cal Band continues to be the Pacesetter of College Marching Bands. Go bears, beat the odds!

2020 Cal Band Virtual Shows

The Nickelodeon Nostalgia Show
Behind the STUNT: The Nickelodeon Nostalgia Show

The Party of the Decade Show
Behind the STUNT: The Party of the Decade Show
The Elements Show
Behind the STUNT: The Elements Show