Barry McNamara  |   Published September 06, 2018

Fighting Scots Marching Band Ready for Its Opener

Fighting Scots Marching Band plans to bring the funk to this year’s Fighting Scots football games at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.
  • The Fighting Scots Marching Band made their fall debut at Wednesday’s rain-soaked Warren County Prime Beef Festival Parade.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Although its performance season got off to a soggy start at the rain-soaked Warren County Prime Beef Festival Parade, the outlook is bright and sunny for Monmouth College’s Fighting Scots Marching Band.

“We got a little bit wet … OK, we got a lot wet,” said Greg Rife, who is co-directing the band this year with Andrew Dziuk. “But the band has been doing fantastic work.”

Dziuk is the daily presence for the band, teaching music history and brass instruments at Monmouth. A doctoral student at the University of Iowa, Rife was on campus for a five-day band camp in August, and he also travels to Monmouth for the band’s Monday night practices at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.

“We graduated about half the band last year, but we had a big intake of freshmen,” said Dziuk. “Of the 32 members of the band, about two-thirds are freshmen and sophomores, so it’s a very young group. We’ve asked a lot of them, and they’ve responded very well.”

“We’re trying new rehearsal techniques and new procedures,” said Rife, who is charged with the band’s visual presentation and drill techniques. “I’m amazed at how detail-oriented they’ve been. Because we don’t practice as much as a larger band would, the manner in which they practice makes all the difference, and they’ve been nothing short of amazing.”

This year’s Fighting Scots Marching Band playlist includes Bruno Mars selections, including “Uptown Funk” and “Treasure.”

Rife is a veteran of big marching bands, as he was in the band at the University of Illinois as an undergraduate student and has worked with the 300-member marching band in the Lincoln-Way school district in the Chicago suburbs for the past five years. That band, which regularly competes in Bands of America events, will march in the nationally televised Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day.

“I told our students at the beginning of the year that there are some pros to being in a smaller band,” said Rife. “You get more individual attention and each person is more noticeable and more important – their contribution really matters.”

Dziuk said he was pleased by how the band’s “preseason” has gone.

“We’ve really pushed them hard,” he said, referring in part to band camp, which was held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. the Monday through Friday before classes began. “They learned two tunes on the field, and they’ve learned another one since camp ended.”

The tunes the band is learning this year are Bruno Mars selections, including “Uptown Funk” and “Treasure.”

Dziuk also praised the band’s student leadership – drum majors Chase Carnes ’19 of Monmouth and Holly Reyner ’21 of Independence, Iowa.

“Chase is a returning drum major for us, and even though Holly’s young, she’s shown a lot of leadership skills,” said Dziuk. “She’s an extraordinary violinist and also plays the flute.”

Reyner is a music major, but Rife was quick to point out that most members of the band are majoring in different subjects.

“These students have other things they’re doing, other things they’re prioritizing, and rightfully so,” he said. “They’re taking time away from their majors to participate in band, and they’re also putting in time on their own outside of rehearsals.”

In addition to returning to the streets of Monmouth for the College’s Homecoming parade in October, the band will play at all five home Fighting Scots football games. 

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