University of Delaware marching band, Eyes with pride
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 12:10
“Eyes with pride.” These words are credited to the late marching band director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, George N. Parks. I didn’t know that when I first learned them seven years ago during my first day of band camp in high school. I was taught Parks’ call and response body positioning self-check which includes commands such as, “How are your feet? Together! Chin? Up! Eyes? With pride!” I associated this positive chant only with my high school and assumed that it was something a band teacher made up long before my time. I was totally blindsided when my first University of Delaware Marching Band rehearsal came to a close in the same manner, but I also immediately felt at home.
I later learned that drum majors from my high school attend Parks’ Drum Major Academy annually, and that this was the source of the prideful chant. After a few weeks in the university’s band, I also learned that Parks was a very close friend of the UDMB’s director, Heidi Sarver. Having this commonality between where I came from and this new chapter of my life was comforting, and I really took it to heart.
It amazes me that something so simple—yelling a few words—can be so powerful and unite so many people. While I was in the university’s band during my freshman and sophomore years, the ensemble consisted of roughly 300 members. Our voices were a force to be reckoned with, and the band’s strength and pride is still apparent today.
At its base level, the chant reminds members to stand up straight and tall while assuming the “attention” position, but I believe there’s a lot more to it. To me, it represents what marching band is all about. UDMB brings a diverse group of people together to achieve the common goals to perform with strong technique, to entertain the audience and to have as much fun as humanly possible while doing it.
Obviously, UDMB encompasses more than this chanting exercise, but this is what I loved most about my time in the band. It’s rare that people of different ages, different expertise (instruments) and different skill levels can find common ground. Everyone’s voices blend together during the responses. You might guess that this strips members of their identities by blending voices together into one sound. I think it does the opposite. Each member contributes to the chorus; you can clearly hear the distinct voices of the members standing near you, but you can also hear the overarching sound of the unified band. It’s a little difficult to explain, but if you stick around Delaware Stadium for UDMB’s post-game performance after football is over, you’ll have the opportunity to hear what I’m talking about.
It’s really weird watching and listening to the band go through this chant as a spectator. I’ve caught myself joining in during the responses, standing a little taller and looking out at the world with a more determined gaze as a result. My eyes shine with pride every time I watch UDMB perform, and even though I no longer march, the band will always have a place in my heart.
The next football game UDMB is playing at is against Albany this Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.
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