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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

The Marching Band Refused to Yield by Sam M. '07

Band in the name of love.

DID YOU KNOW? Kelly Clarkson was the most-played artist on American radio in 2006, even though she only released one single: “Walk Away.”

Today, 3/4, is unofficially national marching band day. Get it? Anyway, to celebrate, I was going to do an entry about the MIT marching band’s slush-infested Valentine’s day crusade to deliver something like 2,000 love-infested “band-o-grams,” but my good friend Ben is in Boston this weekend visiting some college or other, so I probably won’t get a chance to do it tonight. Anyway, blame Ben, because I am infallible. But I at least wanted to start writing today because there’s only one national marching band day per year. So until I get a chance to get all the pictures together, here’s a poem I wrote when I was seven:

Seen in Winter
Never Summer
Oh, he’s melting.
What, he’s water?
Mr. Snowman is gone
After the fun
Now it’s snowing, make him again!

I think it’s basically the greatest artistic achievement of my short life.

Hokay. So. Nine days and 10,000 miles of flight later, I’m finally about ready to finish up this entry on marching band with some pictures.


So, to answer all of your questions, here is the marching band in its full 14-member glory. I think in total we have about 20-25 people who are associated with the band on a rotating basis, but most performance days range around 16 due to MIT students’ busy schedules, and the fact that most of the events are on Saturday afternoons, which means like 3 people oversleep every week.

Also of note: the awesome drum cart that our clarinet player, Michael ’09, built for us. Since we don’t have enough percussion players to have, you know, more than just a snare drum, we decided to lug a trap set everywhere we go with us. The cart rolls along the ground with great ease, and can also be fitted into any set of bleachers that MIT can throw at us.


One instrumentalist who I forgot to mention in my earlier breakdown of the band is Mary Beth ’10! She plays piano! In a marching band. We can’t really afford a marimba or glockenspiel or anything, so, engineers that we are, we adapted a snare drum harness into a 1986 Casio Keyboard harness, outfitted her with an amplifier and battery pack, and told her to play whatever she wanted. Sometimes when the drummer gets tired of making up a cadence, we just let her use one of the preset drum beats so we can keep time marching. My favorite is “samba!”


And even dragging like 20 pounds of electrical equipment around, Mary Beth was still unafraid to march around Boston on the slushiest day of the year 2007. In order to spread some love and, more importantly, make some money, the band decided to sell “band-o-grams” to unsuspecting MIT students. Basically it meant that you give us $15 and we show up wherever you want on campus and play your beloved a song. Example songs included a vocal version of “All You Need Is Love” and “Dragostea Din Tei.”

No, really, the MIT marching band plays Dragostea Din Tei. As trombonist Caroline ’08 put it, “I think we should play only the numa numa song, and not only would I never get sick of it, I would enjoy it even more each time.”


Earlier that night we needed something from a printer, so we had our tubist Ken head into the cluster and grab it. That was more of an ordeal than you can surmise even from this picture.

In conclusion, the MIT marching band is the greatest musical group of the new millenium and will probably win a Grammy before you die.

52 responses to “The Marching Band Refused to Yield”

  1. Shannon says:

    “Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?”

    I know every single word of that song- talk about wasted brain space.

    Sam, your titles never cease to amuse, and that poem is an artistic masterpiece. Pulitzer-worthy, in fact.

    Also guys, can we please stop with the first post business? It’s getting really annoying.

  2. Dude says:

    Our site is maintained by twelve students and four admissions staff members – please visit our blogs to learn more about us and suggest topics for future blog entries.

    Thats what your site says SAM – make a blog entry on how uninteresting life is at MIT? please do it.!

  3. Dude says:

    For those who dont get accepted!

  4. milena says:

    hahahaha cute poem!!!! My best friend wrote one when he was a kid too, and he still remembers it… I think it’s way better than anything he writes now, which is kinda depressing, now that I think of it…

    What about the 3/4 thing? what’s to get? lol (gosh, i feel STUPID!)

  5. 3/4 = fourth march 3 for march, 4 for the 4th instant, American way

  6. I am from India. My girlfriend in Japan (42, married to an doctorate engineer, with 2 kids) is eagerly waiting for my acceptance.

    How many of your GF/BF s are waiting for the decision?

  7. And shannon no is the answer. Please don’t be so heartless to stop the “first post”.

    BTW, I visited your page, and found this link which I wanna share. Please come forward and help:


  8. Matt says:

    So how many people are actually in the MIT marching band?

  9. theresa says:

    Snively – what do you play? are you actually in a marching band, or is this all random knowledge for you? :D


  11. 3/4 is a time signiture, a tempo that music is played at. Basically the speed of some songs

  12. Snively says:

    Gah! Time to end the confusion!

    3/4 is a time signature, but by no means a tempo indicator. 3/4 just means that there are three beats in a measure and the quarter note gets the beat. 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3. . .get it? You can take that at any tempo you want (which is the speed of a song).

    The reason that makes it a marching band holiday is because a lot of shows are in 3/4.

    Last I heard, MIT’s marching band had what, about 11 members?

    Wouldn’t another good marching band holiday be 8/25? Get it?

  13. actually 3/4 is a hard time to march in, since steps are done in intervals of two (left on odd counts, right on even counts).
    If there is ever a movement written in 3/4, it gets translated into 1-2-3-4-5-6, in order to keep the left step on odd counts and the right step on even counts.
    Actually, most band shows I know of written in 4/4 or 2/4
    (then again, the first movement of my school’s show this past year was mostly in 5/4)

    hopefully I’ll be joining the MIT marching band soon! :D

  14. mario says:

    I though it was “March forth”? No? Where did I hear that…

  15. Anonymous says:

    my first show was opened in 7/4, then went to 6/4 and some 3/4, had a ballad in 2/2 and 5/4, bagan the closer in 4/4 and then returned to 7/4 alternating with 4/4 for the final moves. No wonder I couldnt stay in step.

  16. snively says:

    Could be “March forth”, that makes more sense. 6/8 and 3/4 often get transposed into 2 or 6, Theresa is right, making me lean more towards “March Forth”.

    Seriously though, 8/25.

  17. mario says:

    BTW, MY official day is March 10. This occurred to me some time in probably seventh grade when it occurred to me that both my name and the third month start with “Mar”.

  18. Anonymous says:

    ummmm what is a 1/25th note? Pretty sure that doesnt exist, so 8/25 doesnt exist either…

  19. Snively says:

    Say each number individually. . .


    8. 2. 5.

  20. Alyssa says:

    Yay marching band!

    Do you recall what was revealed the day,
    the muuuuuusic died?….

  21. Meara says:

    “March forth” makes a lot more sense than any other rationale, it seems to me–I know very little about marching bands, but if it was just because of the time signature the holiday could be the fourth day of any month of the year. I, for one, really like music written in 7/4. It’s a really fun meter, once you get used to playing in it.

    But I still don’t get it, Snively, even with this 8 to 5 thing. Is that how long marching bands practice or something? (My HS doesn’t have a marching band, so I am woefully ignorant.)

  22. Snively says:

    OK, I give up, lol.

    8 to 5 is standard Marching Band step size, 8 steps to five yards, or 22.5 inches. It works out nicely because you can count two measures between yardlines. I know my band isn’t the only one that does this. . .

  23. Meara says:


    That makes sense. Yeah, no way I would’ve figured that one out. I’ve never even seen a marching band except on TV.

  24. Just wonder, what are the exchange programs for aero/astro student does MIT participate…………………….

  25. Snively says:

    lol, not random knowledge, I’m in a marching band. I’m clarinet section leader, it’s hardcore. I was historian in fact, so I got to make the slideshow. . .

    Recognize the voice at the beginning? Yep, that’s the movie trailer voice guy! He did a special recording for us, it was exciting.

    So, to sum, yes, I am in marching band. I like marching band. I probably won’t be in MIT’s marching band unless I can find 90 other people to join with me :(

  26. Jeff C says:

    For everyone who’s interested in MIT Marching Band:

    You should definitely think about marching for a corps. It’s like a marching band, except on steroids, a million times cooler, costs more, takes up more time, and is the best experience of your life. Sorry, no reed instruments allowed.

    Not to mention Cav is almost the best in the world. *Go Cadets!*

  27. Audrey H. says:

    Aww that poem is soo cute!

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Is it sad that I had time to listen to that song multiple times, plus the star wars version, on my way home today? That song is SOOO long. I hate Seattle traffic.
    And really, clarinet? It’s all about the trombone, man. Or the piano (had an adjudication today, just got home!)… or the harp if you’re talking about an orchestra. But anyway, band-wise, trombone’s my instrument.

  29. Snively says:

    Not to be a downer, but is anybody at MIT

    a) Going to have time to be on the Cavies?
    b) Going to be able to afford corps?
    c) Goint to fly to Illinois to do it, just to age out in like a year?

    I like corps, but a Div 1 like the Cavies may not mesh well with an MIT student.

    So, while mourning your lack of inclusion in the best Div 1 corps out there, watch a performance of theres. Search Google Video for “Cavaliers Frameworks” and prepare to be absolutely amazed. Do it.

  30. Amjad says:

    Guys if i start a group for MIT 07 applicants at facebook who will join the group?
    what for?
    well, we can just talk there and waste time lol. i mean we are gonna post comments here at mit blogs and there at the group wasting double the time, and that’s what we want. i guess we all want to waste our time at least ’till march 17th smile

  31. theresa says:

    well I’m a pit captain (yeah, timpani!) — and in NJ it’s ALL about Cadets (so many of my instructors were in it) (if not Cadets, they were in Crossmen)
    — Snively, do you compete on USSBA? if so, what group? (my school’s group 5 Open – NJ State Champs + Best Percussion – woot woot!)
    and just a side note, I’d totally be with you to join the MIT band :D

  32. Snively says:

    I don’t actually know what USSBA stands for, sorry. I’m part of the NWMBC (Northwest Marching Band Circuit, Our band sits at around 80-90 so we don’t win any open class stuff, but we’re not emberassing. I blame the freshmen.

    MIT’s marching band is kinda sad (sorry Sam!), but they have a great time. I’m thinking the existing marching band should still exist, seems like everybody likes it. How about a new marching ensemble? MIT can afford uniforms for us, right? Besides, is MIT not the school that brags about having 8 gazillion clubs? How about a kick butt marching ensemble?

  33. anonymous says:

    What could possibly be the instrumentation of an 11 piece marching band?

    (Although I suppose, for ONCE, the flute would be heard…smile)

  34. Sam says:

    Just a quick answer to the last question — at a typical MIT marching band rehearsal, we will have

    1 piccolo
    2 flutes
    1 clarinet
    1 tenor sax
    4 trumpets
    1 mellophone
    2 trombones
    1 tuba
    1 drum set

    I was in a super-hardcore 55 person marching band in high school (we came in second in Group 2 in TOB, which is not the greatest marching band circuit in the world, but it’s something) and it’s great to be in a marching band that’s more about playing music and having fun than about drilling people on slow back-up technique. Heck, we even have people from Texas who don’t mind playing with us!

  35. NOt the first post! LOl!

    ANkit Chandra
    Gaborone, Botswana

  36. Amjad says:

    I just created a group on facebook for MIT 07 applicants. its name is “MIT 07 Applicants”. And hey everybody, i’m gonna accept any add by you guys.
    go take a look at it.
    Join it. it’ll be fun


  37. Jeff C says:

    Whoa, I always thought Cavs were in Boston. Crazy. I guess it’s actually the Crusaders… lame.

    Anyhow, I do think some MIT students would have time if it were in Boston, could be in it for more than one year (I’ve got three years to go), and that many have the money (or the skills…) to pay themselves through it.

    But now that I know it’s just the Crusaders… meh.

  38. Shea says:

    Yeah, Crusaders are in Boston. The Spartans are nearby too, as well as East Coast Jazz.
    I really doubt there would be time to march in a D&B corps while at MIT. I didn’t even have time for it in high school, but then again, my high school has a crazy work ethic, so…
    Depends on how good you are at managing your time.

  39. Matt says:

    Pit power! yeah!

  40. omega says:

    Just giving a shout out for Tubas (/sousaphones), the backbone of it all. woot woot!

  41. Elizabeth says:

    Your four trumpets are going to overpower the ENTIRE band. That’s not gonna work for me. I’d say one trumpet and increase the parts of the other single instruments. Trumpets are just way too high and loud (not ugly, just the easiest to hear)

  42. Elizabeth says:

    That was directed at Sam, sorry. And personally I’m biased for the trombones, but you’ve already got two so I’m content. Just don’t let the trumpets ruin life!

  43. theresa says:

    WOO pit! At least I’m not the only pit person here :D Matt what do you play?

    Sam, if there were enough people willing could the band get some pit instruments in (xylophone, vibes, etc..? ) (I suck at drum set :D )

  44. kevinfromMA says:

    This reminds me, everybody who wants to marvel at some exceptional musical talent (and who happens to live in the area) should check out the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble show this Friday at 8pm, “Magic of Magali.”

    I’ve seen the FJE play as often as possible for the past two years and I’m utterly amazed every time. I even gave in and bought one of their CD’s (Yeah I know, music on a physical medium!? What!?) I’ve seen several professional groups on the jazz club/bar circuit and the complexity, control, and improvisational talent some of these kids possess blows away the recorded artists. Truly a treat if you like the genre.

    The only sad thing is that Kresge is all but empty for the concerts. Nevertheless Dr. Harris always puts on a show stopper. Even when notable composers or artists show up the auditorium–beautiful inside and out, by the way, with excellent natural acoustics–is more than three quarters empty. I’d fill me with warm fuzzies to see it approaching full smile

    A little background/Disclaimer: I’m not in the FJE or even MIT. I’m just YAEAD — Yet Another Early Action Defer(ee). I’ve been playing the Alto Sax for 9 years and the drum set (informally) for 2. Just passing time until St. Patty’s Day…

  45. Matt says:

    I play Mallets, Marimba for the past 2 years (plus cymbals, etc)

    I had the coolest set-up last year! I had my marimba, and then a triple cymbal stand in front with 2 cymbals and a brake drum in between! it was awesome! (I only played 4 notes on the brake drum for the whole show)

  46. kanika says:

    coldplay ..n now poetry…sam…u n me have so much in common……the only difference being that my poetry at seven was no more than a ..umm….you know…

  47. milena says:

    Loved the pics!! I would pay A LOT more than $15 to listen to you guys play dragostea din tei, because that song is so bad, it’s actually good. You should play it for us during CPW!!!

  48. milena says:

    Loved the pics!! I would pay A LOT more than $15 to listen to you guys play dragostea din tei, because that song is so bad, it’s actually good. You should play it for us during CPW!!!

  49. Caroline says:

    I am sooooo with Milena – please play Dragostea din tei for us at CPW!!!

    And I love the drum set cart idea. I love even more that you’ve made it work. =)