Eight Years and Counting

Anna Palsma, center, with co-Drum Majors Ashley Smith, left, and Sabrina Lochner, right. Anna graduated from SU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Performance Honors

Your first performing opportunity: its 85 degrees and sunny; you’re in your full polyester uniform, shako (hat) included. The instrument you thought weighed no more than two pounds suddenly feels like its 200 pounds. You follow your section leader down to the football field to see a bunch of people playing music while moving to different spots on the field. When you start playing, you feel like your lungs have left your body – you can barely play three notes. You begin to think, why in the world do people do this?

Then the rush hits you. The first big moment in the show where the guard tosses their flags, the trumpets hit the notes an octave higher than they were intended to, the drumline breaks down, and the audience applauds. Now your lungs have seemed to fill with enough air and you dare anyone to tell you to stop playing or marching. The show has come to an end but you’re still on a high. After you march off the field your whole section comes together as you exchange high fives, hugs, screams, and chants. Then it hits you – why you love marching band so much. The rush you get on the field is incredible, but nothing compares to those faces of the people in your section that you bonded with throughout the rehearsals and band camps.

Well, that’s my story anyway, of how I came to love marching band. I’m Anna Palsma and I have taken part in marching band over the last eight years of my life – four years marching at Liverpool High School and four years with the Syracuse University Marching Band. I have served many different roles in each group including Drum Major of the SUMB for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. As I begin this new role of “alumni,” it is hard not to feel a sense of marching band withdrawal. Even though I have earned my degree in music education and will be continuing on with my master’s degree at the University of Florida, where I intend to work with the Gator Marching Band, nothing will ever compare to my experience as a member of the SUMB.

So why pour your blood, sweat, and tears into this musical endeavor? For me it was the people I saw at every rehearsal. The SUMB is a team. It’s a team with 100% participation. We have no bench (except for the torn ACLs, twisted ankles, and occasional asthma attacks). When one person is missing from rehearsal, it affects everyone on the field. Every single person has a place or a dot that matters. With the music that is performed, we have the potential to build excitement and create an atmosphere in which the audience is forced to show emotion. Take the Michael Jackson show from our 2009 season as an example. That music forced people to pay attention during half time and forced them to have fun. That’s the beauty of music – how it reaches people. I loved running music sectionals to communicate this idea of music reaching the audience. There was definitely a lot of sweat that went into those rehearsals. There were also plenty of tears involved over the last four years, most of which came about my senior year. Conducting the alma mater one last time at the spring scrimmage is something I will never forget. To me, it was the official passing of the baton to the 2010 drum majors. Ashley, Mary, and Sam are three people who will pour their blood, sweat, and tears into this program – I have no doubts. I challenge all you current members to do the same. You’ll be surprised at how well this season will turn out for you. Best of luck and as always, Go Orange!


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