THE FIGHTIN' TEXAS AGGIE BAND: A HALFTIME TRADITION
By Sarah Caffey '14 | Vol. 2 Issue 1
As a student at Texas A&M University, there are many traditions that are labeled must-sees. On Saturdays in the fall, watching the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band’s football game halftime performance is one of those traditions. Waves of excitement roll through the crowd as the band emerges from the stands. All eyes are focused on the Cadets as they step onto the field, phones are brought out to take video and the crowd responds with an enthusiastic "WHOOP!" as the famous words, "Now forming at the north end of Kyle Field," are spoken.
For over 120 years, the band has been wowing audiences across the nation. It was first established in 1894 under director Joseph Holick and was composed of only 13 Cadets. Today, the band is the largest military-style marching band in the country. With over 400 members who are all in the Corps of Cadets, the band is one of the most unique in the nation. In addition to football halftime performances, the band represents the university at Corps of Cadets functions, Presidential parades and the Texas A&M Muster ceremony.
From the early-morning rehearsals to the precision formations on the gridiron, there is no doubt that being a member of the band is hard work; however, the support of the student body makes it all worthwhile.
"We are most fortunate in that Texas A&M University has a unique respect and appreciation for the Aggie Band," said Timothy Rhea, DMA, director of bands and music activities. "It is very rewarding for band members to experience the positive reaction from the crowd each week."
Aside from feeling the rush of performing, students tend to join the band for reasons that run much deeper than the football halftime show.
"I wanted to join an organization that was bigger than me—one with rich tradition and culture," said Tim McMillan ’15, head drum major and international studies and Spanish double major. "Not only do we get the opportunity to perform for hundreds of thousands of people, but we are also developing leaders of character every day."
"Keep an open mind throughout the experience," advised Ashley Becktold ’17, a general studies student. "I did not have the slightest idea of what I was getting myself into, and it has proven to be quite rewarding. Joining the Aggie Band is without a doubt the best decision that I have made in my life thus far."
Thinking about trying out for the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band? Requirements include membership in the Corps of Cadets (with no military service obligation), high school playing and marching experience and passing a performance audition.
Upon asking Rhea for any tips he may have for hopeful high school musicians, he advises, "Practice. In music, we are always hoping to obtain perfection. While that task is impossible, in reaching for perfection, you obtain excellence. Once you have experienced excellence, you will never settle for anything else."
To see this excellent, unique, timeless tradition for yourself, check out some of the band’s performances at youtube.com/aggiecorps. Whether you want to be on the field or in the crowd, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band is an important piece of the student experience.