Q&A with Dan Garr ’09, Mike Franke ’10, and Natalie Semczuk ‘10
What They Do:
In simplest terms, we’re a group of people who love to play our instruments and love spreading school spirit at Football, Men’s Hockey, and Women’s Hockey games, both home and - on occasion - away.
Dan Garr ‘09
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Has been involved with the club since first semester freshman year.
Hometown: Kingston, RI
Mike Franke ‘10
Major: Chemical Engineering
Conductor of the pep band for the 2007-08 season.
Hometown: Racine, WI
Natalie Semczuk ‘10
Major: Science, Technology, and Society
Manager of the pep band.
Hometown: Amsterdam, NY
Who joins your club?
Generally, our members are people who were in band in high school that want to continue playing to support their school’s teams, but we also get some people that just love hockey and have just a little bit of musical experience. Dan
Most pep band members are very energetic. The band loves to support the hockey teams and the football team. Also, members are very talented musically. Mike
People who love to watch hockey and play fun music! Natalie
Describe a typical get-together or activity.
We have several types of activities. At games, we get together beforehand to load up the van to transport instruments, then head to the game around half an hour before the start (an hour for hockey). We play sets of longer songs before the game and between periods, and short cheers during stoppages. Afterwards, we may or may not unload the van back at West Hall, and occasionally get together at someone’s apartment.
Rehearsals are held usually once a week, where we’ll go through some of our music that we need to work on, or practice a new song, then usually go out to lunch afterwards. We also do several intramural teams comprised of members of the pep band and their friends, and general gatherings randomly. Dan
Typically during hockey season, we’ll play at the games every weekend. If it’s an away game, we often travel with the team to support them, and go on several overnights over the year. At the game, we’ll play short cheers during the stoppages and longer songs at period breaks or time outs. Sometimes after big games we’ll have ice time, but generally after games we’ll unload the instruments at West Hall and then go out for a late dinner somewhere. If it’s an away game, we’ll cheer the team on when they get back to the bus, and then return to our hotel to hang out or eat a late dinner. Natalie
What sets your club apart from the rest?
We're one of the oldest clubs at RPI, which means we have lots of traditions going back decades, and a huge number of supportive alumni. The pep band is really like a big family everyone knows everyone and we all get along great. Dan
I think what sets us apart from the other music clubs is the fact that we play multiple times every weekend (most weekends), whereas other music clubs have only 1-5 performances a semester. I enjoy being able to perform in front of an audience this frequently, and most other members do as well. Also, the attitude at performances and rehearsals is more relaxed than other performance groups. Mike
Pep Band is completely student run and we work closely with students, faculty/staff, and administration. Not only is it a great way to generate school spirit, but it’s also really fun and we get in free to all of the hockey games! Natalie
Does your club give you a chance to be involved in a greater community (outside from RPI)?
Absolutely. One of the best experiences there is in the pep band is going on road trips to follow the teams, where we’ll often intermingle with other pep bands. In fact, we sent 10 or so members to the ECAC championship in Albany to play with Colgate’s pep band, and put them up for the night. Also, for the past few years we’ve participated in the annual Uncle Sam parade in troy, and earlier this year played for an Albany River Rats game. Dan
Also, we are planning on performing at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk in Albany this coming October. Mike
Are you gaining skills that will help you when you leave RPI?
The biggest thing I can think of is just the amount of social interaction you get when you’re in the pep band, and it really teaches you how to get along with people in the future. Dan
Definitely. I can’t picture any other way that I could have learned so much about leadership outside of conducting the band this year. Mike
Yes, especially when it comes to the leadership opportunities with pep band. The Pep Band is completely student run, so anyone who is in a leadership position gets a lot of hands-on training for all sorts of things, from organization to effective and professional communication. Natalie
What do you do to welcome new members?
We run an NRB program called “100% Natural Noise” every fall, where new members can check out what the Pep Band is all about and participate in an informal rehearsal. Usually the evening or around that general timeframe, we’ll go bowling with the whole band, or do something outside like a cookout or street hockey game to get everyone involved in the band. We also have organized poker nights, dinners, and intramural sports (gym hockey, ice hockey, and volleyball) to join in! Natalie
Experienced members help out newcomers in their section, and the managers make new music sets for them as well. Mike
When we get new members, we try to get them to a few rehearsals, and help them at the games, teaching them our traditions and routines. We always have a table at the activities fairs, with a good number of members there to recruit. Dan