Marching band alumni continue marching in college


Julianna Brenner '19 plays with the other euphoniums as a part of the Michigan State marching band. She said if she ever wants to teach marching band, the best way is to experience the real thing in "one of the best bands."

Gabriela Dulworth '22, Staff Writer

To some, the Blue Devil Marching Band is another group, people who just play instruments at halftimes for football games and in the Homecoming parade. 

To others, like Tim DeGrand, South alumni class of ‘19, the marching band opened up doors for them they hope will never close.

“I kept going with it [elementary school level band] and then when I got into middle school, Mr. Takis, the band director at South, tried to get me to join the marching band,” DeGrand said. “Then I did it for South and I loved it all four years. So I decided to come to [ the University of] Michigan and I wanted to try out for their marching band.”

Although prepared for his audition and the rigorous process involved in the ten-hour days of band camp, DeGrand’s experience still turned out to be much more different than his expectations.

“We had a band camp that lasted about ten days and at least ten hours every single day of work, of playing and marching,” DeGrand said. “The last three days, those were thirteen hour days. Those were hard.”

Julianna Brenner, South alumni class of ‘19, had a different experience in getting into Michigan State’s marching band.

“My case was a little unique because I’m an education major. At Michigan State if you play a marching instrument then you are automatically invited to the band,” Brenner said. “I play the euphonium and that’s an instrument that’s in the band so that’s how I got into the band.”

A big help in DeGrand’s planning was Christopher Takis, South’s Director of Bands.

“He did a really good job helping me get an excerpt for the audition,” DeGrand said. “But you know he also did a really good job of being my teacher for four years, helping me grow those skills all throughout sixth grade to my senior year of high school. Really just making me a better player, forcing me to try harder and do better.”

Takis went to Michigan State University, where he marched in their band. He claims that although classes about marching band were optional for him to graduate, there isn’t a single thing that could replace the experience. 

“I have a lot of experience that I never would have gotten, had it not been for marching band,” Takis said.. “I got to travel a lot, I got to perform for thousands of people every weekend and I try to sell that to my students. It really is an awesome part of college — it was for me anyways.”

Brenner has the exact same sentiment as Takis when it comes to involvement.

“I figured that if I’m going to be teaching marching in the future, I should at least experience it at, in my opinion, one of the best marching bands” Brenner said.

Although only in his first year of college, and consequently of University of Michigan’s marching band, DeGrand agrees with Takis and Brenner’s sentiments completely, saying it has been quite a bit of work but loads of fun.

“I’ve met a bunch of people — I’ve got my entire section and we’ve all become really close friends. I’m looking for a house with a couple of them too, actually,” DeGrand said. “So, band has just been great. We hang out, we all go to parties with each other on the weekends.”

A factor contributing to DeGrand’s joy may just be his position in band — sixth chair out of 36, a high position for someone on their first year of college marching band.

“We [him and a few of his bandmates] were all in the house together when the list came out,” DeGrand said. “I was looking for my name at the bottom because I was expecting it to be down there, and people kept going ‘Tim, man, really good job’ and I was like ‘what’ and I looked and I was all the way up the chair which really freaked me out. So that was really amazing and honestly pretty crazy for me.”