How College Bands Cope With Faster Game

Start by tossing out the old songbook
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2012 12:15 PM CST
How College Bands Cope With Faster Game
Members of the Air Force marching band perform in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

College football teams, just like the pros, play faster games these days. But unlike the pros, college teams typically have bands that play between downs. So what's a band leader to do in the era of the no-huddle offense? Caleb Hannan at Grantland takes an interesting look, with Oregon band director Eric Wiltshire emerging as the main architect of the new musical template. It's "like the movie scene where every non-essential part on the plane is removed in order to make it light enough to take off from the short, improvised runway," writes Hannan.

Wiltshire first scrapped any songs longer than 30 seconds and instituted hand signals to replace too-slow flipbooks. Then came the theme music: "Whenever one of Oregon's star players gets a first down, the band plays the first five chords of a recognizable song." For QB and Hawaii native Marcus Mariota, for example, it's the Hawaii Five-O theme. And don't bother asking Wiltshire about the game: He can't watch because it takes too long to turn around and re-face the band. He relies on drum majors to ID which player did something on the field. Read the full story here. (More marching band stories.)

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