BYU’s marching band faced with Canyon Road construction

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BYU Marching Band members meet for practice on the second day of "sweat week," to prepare for the upcoming season. (BYU Cougar Marching Band Facebook page)
BYU Marching Band members meet for practice on the second day of “sweat week,” to prepare for the upcoming season. (BYU Cougar Marching Band Facebook page)

Entertainment and class, that’s what the BYU Marching Band exemplifies every year. This year is no different.

With three shows to perform multiple times during the 2015 football season, the members of the marching band start preparation during a week-long band camp before school starts.

The band camp, nicknamed “sweat week,” holds the promise of long hours in the sun and sore bodies — but this year it held an additional surprise.

Canyon Road, located west of the stadium, was under construction during sweat week, meaning that construction equipment had spread into the west parking lot. A problem for band members, since the lot doubles as the marching band’s practice field.

BYU Marching Band Director Fred K. McInnis said he was surprised at the condition of their secondary practice “field.” Because street lights in the parking lot were being rewired, several holes had been drilled into the asphalt of the parking lot.

The construction on Canyon Road not only created potholes to avoid during drills, but also blocked band members from entering their asphalt practice field — since the marching band’s instruments, lockers and band room is located on the west side of the stadium.

“It got to be not only, ‘How do we rehearse on the west parking lot,'” McInnis said. “It got to be, ‘How do we even get to the west parking lot?'”

Blaine Blackman, the 23-year-old BYU Marching Band President and computer science major, explained that the only specific band formation that was really effected was what is called the “Stick Y” — the formation that is created by band members during the pre-game performance for football players to run through.

Though Blackman said that “construction wasn’t a huge deal,” flutist Rachel Miller, 22, a Classics major with a Ancient Greek emphasis, disagreed.

Construction equipment sits in the parking lot where the BYU Marching Band practices during their weeklong practice in summer. (BYU Cougar Marching Band Facebook Page)
Construction equipment sits in the parking lot where the BYU Marching Band practices during their weeklong practice in summer. (BYU Cougar Marching Band Facebook Page)

Miller explained that even after the holes were filled, the gravel filling made pivoting, or making sharp quick turns for the formations, difficult.

“We didn’t want to kill anyone,” Miller said.

Despite the unexpected state of their practice field, McInnis summarized the marching band experience in a few short words. “It worked, I wouldn’t want to do it again, but it worked.”

And things look like they will continue to work. Throughout the semester, the band meets three days a week for two hour practices in preparation for upcoming shows.

In the next home game, fans can expect to see the same precision drill show, but with a surprise twist that Cougars can look forward too. Future shows will also feature collaboration with the BYU Ballroom Backup Team,  the BYU Cougarettes working with a special needs dance group, and a surprise for their final show.

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