Under the muggy haze of a Thursday afternoon, the Marching Tar Heels filed into Navy Field one by one.
With each member adorning a sweat-stained shirt and an instrument in hand, the 265-person band assembled in meticulous rows for what seemed like just another routine practice.
But throughout the past month, the University’s marching band has spent more than 62 hours revamping many of its tradition-bound routines.
And on Thursday night, the ensemble put those changes to the test, ironing out last minute details as the band prepares for its first debut of the school year on Saturday — during UNC’s football game against Elon University.
“We’ve completely redesigned portions of our show in an effort to engage the crowd more in what’s going on,” said Jeffrey Fuchs, director of the Marching Tar Heels. “We’ll be adding things to the show that are going to make the crowd just want to stop what they’re doing and sing along.”
Fuchs said the largest changes to the show will be the addition of dozens of new songs and a complete restructuring of the pre-game entrance.
The new songs will add to the band’s repertoire — which aims to feature a blend of new, popular radio songs and old classics that resonate with alumni, such as Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
“For this year, our goal for each game is for our music to connect with every demographic that attends our football games — from little children to our oldest fans,” Fuchs said.
Although Fuchs would not reveal the details of the pre-game entrance’s restructuring, he said fans will be entertained by its drastic changes.