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Day in the life of Aggie bandsmen exemplifies dedication, near perfection

Published: Friday, November 16, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 16:11


David Cohen

Members of the bugle rank lead the Aggie Band during half time show. Besides the twelve cadets in the bugle rank, there are three drum-majors in charge of the band -- a head drum major and two side drum majors are in charge the infantry and artillery bands.

The night was still spread across the sky. Not a hint of sunshine had yet to grace the Corps dorms. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets are known for having early mornings and late nights. The same goes for the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.

At 5:10 a.m., the strained voices of juniors and sophomores resonated through the Quad, commanding the freshmen to rise and make-ready for the day.

Within minutes, freshmen are required to have their beds made and room ready for inspection, be in full uniform by the time they exit their room and finally stand at attention in the hall with the rest of their freshman class.

The whole hallway writhed with movement. Upperclassmen paced back and forth, seeking out mistakes made by the freshmen. On the opposing wall, freshmen move quickly if not erratically trying to find a spot along the wall to stand at attention, anything to keep them from the gaze of an upperclassman. The nonstop sounds of boots and shoes squeaking across the floor added to the chaotic symphony of the voices that filled the dorm.

The freshmen constantly squirmed along the back wall trying to make sure everyone had a spot. When the lineup was finished and all the “fish” were in the hall, they greeted the upperclassmen from highest to lowest rank.

Each room was randomly inspected by upperclassmen. At the start of the semester, every member of the fish class was issued a book called “The Standard.” Everything a cadet needs to know about life on the Quad — from how to speak to upperclassmen and how a freshman’s room should be kept – is in it.

“The Standard” is used to help guide the cadets and develop them into leaders. Every infraction of “The Standard” results in pushups, sit-ups and flutter kicks while the upperclassmen inspect the rooms.

“The main [lesson] that I’ve taken away from the Aggie Band is just to be more disciplined and be more responsible,” said Carter Ray, junior Aggie Bandsman and Ross Volunteer.

John Paul Barton, senior philosophy major, is the Combined Band Commander. He and his subordinates are responsible for making sure the Aggie Band is in running order, no matter the issue.

“If there is a problem, it’s our jobs to make sure it gets fixed,” Barton said. “We might not be the ones going in there and doing it ourselves but we’re making sure that it happens.”

After the exercises, upperclassmen commanded the fish to get back on the wall. Just before being told to take the exercises outside, the fish faced the door and began the freshman wildcat, continuing it outside until ordered to stop.

After the outside exercises, each outfit marched to the beat of a drum toward Duncan Dining Center for breakfast.

Fish were fed and corralled back to the dorms for more training — either physical or mental. Freshmen were also required to recite “Campusologies,” which are various facts about Texas A&M, the Corps and the Aggie Band.

For the average cadet this moment is when the morning ends and classes begin. The Aggie Band, on the other hand, met on Joe T. Haney Drill Field. Largely known as the practice field, the site is also a memorial to former band members, some of whose ashes are spread on the field.

It is hallowed ground to the band. Only they are expected to set foot there.

The band was separated into three groups for basic music practice. The bass and drum sections practiced together on one side, the treble section on the other and the buglers practiced marching in the center. Within minutes, the songs of Aggieland filled the air.

The band was directed through practice by Timothy Rhea, director of bands, Lt. Col. Jay “The Voice” Brewer, and Capt. Travis Almany.

After music practice was over, the band practiced the famous precision marching. On game days an Aggie can watch the band move with absolute perfection on the field — sharp, crisp turns, reversals and other maneuvers that form the legacy that is the Aggie Band.

Every practice starts at 7 a.m. and ends at about 8:45 a.m. The rehearsal goes like any other; yes the band does make mistakes. But they grind down those mistakes into the sharp, clean lines that an Aggie halftime performance demands. The routine performed at halftime is practiced for one week.

Salvador Tinajero, freshman computer engineering major and Aggie Bandsman, joined the Aggie Band because he found it to be the best.

“When you think about it,” Tinajero said. “It’s pretty amazing what we do in the time we are given.”

At the end of the morning’s practice, not everything is perfect; but Aggies can trust that before the lights of Kyle Field beam down upon the band, it will be.


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