Letter to the Editor: MC pep band co-president discusses group’s disappearance

 Editor’s Note: Maryville College Scots Pep Band members received an email from MC Vice President and Dean of the College Dr. Barbara Wells on Sept. 1, explaining the reasons why the Scots Pep Band, as a student organization, would no longer be performing at college functions and athletic events. In the email, Wells said the Maryville College administration has decided to move in the direction of most of MC’s peer colleges, which have all college bands as ensembles housed in the music program. Wells explained that it is “standard and best practice” for a pep band to be an official ensemble housed in the music program and directed by a music faculty member, and MC Director of Bands Dr. Eric Simpson has been asked to make this change of focus part of his planning for the future of instrumental music at MC. Wells said the college hopes to be able to create an athletics band “in the near future,” and all Pep Band members are encouraged to participate in the MC3Band or one of the other MC music ensembles.

    The school band. It’s a source of entertainment and school spirit that many do not put much thought into other than the instrumentalists themselves. But what happens when the music stops? For many of us, we have lost a central part of our identity, we suddenly no longer have something that meant so much to us.

    As the Co-President of the Maryville College Pep Band (MCPB), I have been a member since my freshman year at MC. As soon as I stepped into the initial interest meeting that first year, I knew this organization would become so important to me and that I wanted to help it grow. Like many others, I worked, attended practices and games and bonded with the other students and alumni in our little group. We were so excited to have enough students to break double digits last year! With open hearts and minds, we looked forward to a bright future (and our pom pom hats that Senior members of the Pep Band traditionally received on the last home football game).

    When we found out that our Pep Band would no longer be able to perform for our school community, we all felt as if those big dreams we had spent the past few years building were suddenly reduced to dust. Though we all wanted to fall apart, we all braced against each other and kept each other strong. Through this, we were able to keep the spirit alive that gave so much to us all.

    To me, the Pep Band is my family, a place where I feel I truly belong and a place where I know that every other person loves me and the organization as much as I love them. I asked several members of the group what Pep Band meant to them, and found that most of our members felt the same way. Members expressed their love for the group through phrases such as “I had a place I felt welcomed on campus;” “It gives me a chance to have a low-stress band program;” and “It was the first welcoming experience that I had that made me want to become a student in the first place.” Each member expressed the different ways through which people found their safe haven under the wing of this student-led organization.

    As a community organization, the Pep Band means a lot to more than just current students. Alumni of Maryville College also take part and find a place to belong. One alumnus explained his experience with the Pep Band from his time as a freshman to now, years after he graduated.

“While I was in college, I didn’t do much on campus outside of class, but Pep Band was something I was immediately interested in joining,” ____ said. “ I made friends and enjoyed myself, not a common thing for me. My typical anxiety melted away, and even felt confident. My senior year, I sat on the rail in front of the band and played boisterously. Since graduating, I have enjoyed Pep Band still– as a way to keep connected to MC.”

     While we may mourn the loss of our organization, one thing is for sure: through its members, the heart of the Maryville College Pep Band will never die. If given the chance, the Sound of the Scots will ring again.

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