Marching through College


From learning the fundamentals of marching to evolving through the collegiate level, past graduates at Greater Latrobe have taken their knowledge and skills to the next tier of athletic bands. The stress of auditioning for directors and professors and balancing college classes  has proven to be a stressful and time-consuming process. However, Wildcat alumni who are currently members of college marching bands have given insight on their experiences and how the organizations they are part of have impacted their lives. Sarah Sass, a member of the D1 University of Pittsburgh Pitt Band, and Elizabeth Meier, a member of the D1 Penn State University Blue Band, reveal the intricate auditioning process their universities offer, as well as how they also are able to maintain academics and social life with the rigorous hours placed into these bands. 

Sarah Sass, a member of the 2018 Greater Latrobe graduating class, is currently a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh. After walking across the stage at the May Commencement in 2018, Sarah knew she wanted to continue her passion for marching band in college. From that moment on, she committed to the audition process for the Pitt Band. Sass is part of the 28 member clarinet section. She gave some insight on what it is like to audition for a college band and the continuing process of what comes after being admitted.

“I chose my own piece and played it for the director,” Sass revealed. “After getting into the band I had to play it again for the woodwind director in a part hearing to get assigned my specific part.”

Those in the music world understand the differentiating parts within such ensembles. For Sarah, this was an accomplishment that she is extremely proud of.

Elizabeth Meier, another member of the 2018 Greater Latrobe graduating class and current sophomore at Penn State, is a member of the piccolo section of the university’s Blue Band. Meier gives insight for the opposing school’s two-day auditioning process and what she had undergone to make the band.

“The first day is just a music audition, and you sign up for a time slot,” says Meier. “The second day is when you learn all the marching fundamentals and by the end of the day you need to march and play a part of the pregame music for final cuts at night.”

Learning that the audition process was the length of two days was a surprise, however this did not hinder her desire to become part of this band. Elizabeth and her family have been avid Penn State fans for years, so being able to be part of this renowned organization was a complete success. 

Many students in high school and members of their marching bands are concerned however for trying to balance out academics and marching band. College band camps usually begin during the summer, and most school’s learn a new show every game for fans. Being able to learn techniques in which are specific to the university or spending long hours during the week dedicated to marching band with the large amounts of school work from college classes, both alumnus’s exposed how they are able to keep up.

“It was kind of intimidating at first since I hadn’t really experienced what college classes were like,” Meier remarks. “But once you get into a groove it’s not too bad and definitely keeps me on top of work. It has helped me develop my time management skills more than any other club or organization I’ve been in.”

Time management skills are an important part of anyone’s life, especially in college. Being able to balance out long hours put into an organization, as well as keeping up with your academics is hard. However Meier, as well Sass, both are in agreement of how these organizations have been a big part of how they are able maintain their chaotic lives.

Students in these college organizations are given numerous opportunities when being admitted. From performing at the enormous college football stadiums, as well as traveling from coast to coast of the United States, it is obvious these organizations are part of their university’s culture. 

Sarah Sass gives details of what she has been able to do with the Pitt Band.

“I’ve traveled to El Paso, Texas to perform in the Sun Bowl, as well to Detroit, Michigan to perform at the Quicklane Bowl,” she remarks.

Elizabeth Meier reveals how she believes this organization has taken her to places in which strengthens her friendships with the people she is playing with. With spending numerous hours of the week and long days during band camps, relationships are bound to be formed, in which are able to last lifetimes.

For those prospective students in high school that want to be part of these types of organizations that have large amounts of school spirit, both band members wanted to give advice on why they are so passionate about what they are doing.

“It’s so worth it to get to experience the traveling and you get to make friendships and memories with so many people,” Sass says excitedly. “It’s also a great support system since so many of your fellow band members have taken the classes you’re in, and have gone through the same experiences, so there’s always someone to help.”