Betts spent all four of her undergrad years in the marching band before graduating in 2014 with a degree in exercise science and a minor in music. When she picked up the alto saxophone in eighth grade, she never put it down.
Lapping, a senior, started taking piano lessons in elementary school. This fall, he will be a section captain for the saxophone players.
Molly Weybright and Adelyn Luke, seniors and trumpet players, met at band camp before their first year. They have been close friends ever since.
Moving with a purpose
Jeffrey Fuchs, director of University bands, began as a tuba player at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. During his time there, he realized his love of working with college band students. In 1995, after a few years of working with the marching bands at Truman State and The University of Kansas, he came to UNC to fill his current position.
Twenty-two years later, his favorite part of the job is working with students.
His popular phrase, “Move with a purpose,” applies whether the 265 band members march on the football field or get off the bus at a rest stop.
Fuchs said last year, 8.6 percent of members got degrees in music--but one in three band members is involved with music after college, whether in a church worship group or local rock band.
Each section of the band has two captains. Although band members can apply and recommend their peers for the roles, Fuchs has the final say.
Luke was a section captain at her high school for the high brass section. She will be the trumpet section captain this fall, where she will lead about 35 trumpet players.
“In high school, as much time as I put into academics, I (also put) into practicing trumpet,” Luke said. “That was great practice for me then, and just going into college, it was just a natural transition in balancing band time and academic time.”
All four band members said that time management is key.
Band is a class through the University that members must add to their schedule. Six hours of rehearsal in the fall and two hours in the spring add up to one credit hour each semester.
They often miss class time to travel with these teams, but Lapping said that as long as he works with his professors and budgets his time, he is able to get everything done.
Instead of staying out with friends after a potluck dinner, Betts went back to her dorm to study. Instead of sleeping in after a late night of homework, Lapping woke up early to do more.
“It’s not in addition to everything else,” Fuchs said. “You do band instead of other things.”
This one time, at band camp
Every spring, the band adds 10 to 12 new songs to their basketball-season repertoire, which they also play for football in the fall.
Fuchs said one of the challenges of his job is to make the program diverse enough for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy, but he usually chooses pop, rock and country songs that are climbing the charts.
Before classes start in the fall, band members attend a mandatory, week-long band camp, where they learn and rehearse the songs we hear at every game.
For Weybright, band camp holds some of her fondest memories.
On the last day of band camp, members perform for their parents on the football field. After saying goodbye to their families, the first-years are led to a dark room. Then the rest of the band starts playing its songs and waving glow sticks, officially welcoming their new bandmates.
This August will be Weybright’s fourth and final year of band camp at UNC.
“Despite the fact that we get an insane amount of really cool perks, the best part has got to be the people,” Weybright said.
“Though the storms of life assail us, still our hearts beat true. Naught can break the friendships formed at dear old NCU.”
“Hark the Sound” said it best — marching band friendships are just that close.
“The band fulfills multiple needs,” Fuchs said. “I think most of the kids use band as an activity time, they use it as a musical time, they use it as a social time — so it’s checking off more than one box.”
The band members said the friends you make in band are their closest friends throughout college.
“You really connect to each other,” Betts said. “I got to school a week early and I already had a little bit of a group started before jumping in and having the overwhelming (start) of college by yourself.”
By the end of this summer, Fuchs will have gone to nine weddings of former band members.
“We get to see the kids come back and they bring their own children back,” Fuchs said. “We get to know the students rather than a biology class where you have them once and never see them again. It’s a family atmosphere.”