“What’s up with the band?…” – something I’ve been asked hundreds of times this week

A day after I was added to the UW Marching Band website (profile) and in many ways I “publicly” became a member of the UW Drumline, we had the strangest marching band rehearsal in my short time as a member.  During warmups on Friday, Mike left for an hour, returned with Lori Berquam, called the band together and told us all to go home.  By now I’m sure that any badger fan has read numerous articles about the “allegations,” compliments of Google news, and whether they like it or not, made their own judgments of the character of the individuals in the band and the group as a whole.  Unfortunately, almost every detail of the investigation I have had to learn from the media and as a result, suffered through reading many journalistic articles, blogging of intelligent people, and blogging of morons.  Plus, I had no idea that there are people who refer to Wisconsin as Wisky.  I’ve been a badger fan for my whole life and have never heard this “nickname.”  Here are a few of the most bizarre comments that I found on the internet.

“I will no longer financially support any errogant, spoiled drunks who have wrongly assumed a place of importance and status…  I wish the band was half as smart as they think they are. Yes, the entire band. Anyone who sits back and does not report these a-holes is as guilty as the a-holes themselves.”  – (source)

Fortunately I’m at least 2/3 as smart as I think I am.

“Having shared music school halls with the UWMarching band for many years and directly seeing how noisy and disruptive to real academics, as well as being extremely rude and inconsiderate of other students, faculty, and the school this group of students was at all times, and yet getting more backing and budget than the rest of the entire music department combined because of their association with the corporate owned football (as well as other UW athletics) team…Perhaps this is the time to teach consideration of the noise made in the halls outside of practice rooms when they go to their equipment lockers and behave like brazen drunk hockey players and poor representatives of the great University of Wisconsin in front of many international students who come to the University to study music. Even the state high schoolers are better behaved when they are on campus. Get a clue marching band members and grow up!” – (source)

I haven’t been stereotyped like this since third grade when I couldn’t pass my multiplication table mighty minute quizzes.  I would like to publicly apologize to all of the “international students” and bitter school of music graduates for my “brazen drunk hockey player” actions.  Although I’m already the oldest “freshman” in the band, I’ll do my best to “get a clue” and “grow up.”

“It is time that we make things better so we do not have to put up with with spoiled brats thinking that sex is everything. Mike you have done the right thing and when the athletic department does more about the the drinking at the games Too bad people need to wear raincoats because of spilled beer . I would like very much to go to games but is it worth it No I will spend my money elsewhere.” – (source)

Thanks for the suggestions!  After all these years I had no idea that you could drink in Camp Randall, but I’ll be sure to bring my raincoat next week.


Was UC Davis in on a national college marching band conspiracy? – I wish…
Interestingly enough, the UC Davis Band has been under fire at the exact time as the UW Band.  Only in this case, instead of receiving allegations of inappropriate behavior, the director actually filed them himself (what?).

  • Simple moral of the story– Professor Leckrone is an incredible leader and I’m relieved that he relates to his students and respects us enough to approach the situation in a proactive manner.  I’ve always loved the UW Band and considered Leckrone to be one of the biggest celebrities in the state, but had no idea what kind of a person he would be to work with on a daily basis if I actually made the drumline.  Although he expects more of us than any other leader I’ve worked under (including ANY high school varsity sport), I have developed a deep rooted respect for his leadership, passion for everything he pursues, and overall approach to life.  All he wants to do is go back to directing an incredible band and teaching young people.  Contrary to some close minded beliefs on campus, it wasn’t a huge personal conspiracy to sabotage the UW football game.  In fact, Leckrone is probably the biggest badger football and basketball fan I have ever met.
  • Complicated moral of the story– college students all over the country, including myself, engage in activities that I would be uncomfortable discussing with my grandmother.  Although I currently have no idea what actions have actually surfaced as a result of the university’s investigation (I probably know even less that the media), I’m pretty sure that during the past four years, while I was a lowly college student, I would not have found any of the allegations out of the ordinary should they happen on a normal college drinking weekend.  As a disclaimer, I’m only aware of the activities which went on in my section of the band and will admit that there is an extremely small chance that more significant problems might have occurred in other sections (however, I believe this to be unlikely).  One of the largest surprises to me is the attention that these bands are receiving form national media.  Are they merely a small microcosm of college culture all over the nation, albeit under a much more public microscope?


If I met anyone who didn’t consider college to be some of the craziest times of their life I would wonder where in the hell they went to college and in what century.  Throughout my college experience, I have tried to cram in as many crazy experiences as possible (going to MN for a year, living with Andrew in the dorms, doing an internship in Colorado for a summer, building a pool table in my hundred year old attic, doing a Co-op for a semester IN MADISON with no homework, buying a short bus and traveling to every away football game, being the president of IIE, “volunteering” to host the 2010 IIE Regional Conference, etc.).  My most recent crazy decision was to “try something new” in my 5th year of college and join the band.  It seemed like an enormous amount of fun… and I was absolutely right.  As the oldest “freshman” in the band, I fit right in with the other freshman, but also with the rest of the drumline, who I now consider close friends.  As a “freshman” I feel in no way that any experiences that we went through were worthy of this type of investigation for a number of reasons.

  • Big Picture – The reputation of any group after a high profile investigation begins takes an incredible hit, regardless of the actual verdict.  Ever hear of the Duke LaCrosse team?  Unfortunately, the answer to this question is an overwhelming YES.  Can (I’ll say it) THE best band in the nation regain the positive reputation that Leckrone spent 40 years shaping?  I hope so.
  • Small Picture– When I joined the band, I was joining one of the most elite and respected organizations in the entire state.  However, now I’m wondering if I should even put “UW Marching Band” on my resume.  While people in Wisconsin would be impressed, I’m not sure that I want to have to defend the organization in an interview with someone who has never seen the band or how hard it works and only read the national media attention.


Part of the reason I joined the band this year is because growing up, I thought the band and badger football were two of the most exciting things around.  Last year, to fuel my love of badger football I bought a short bus with five friends and drove it to every away game in 2007.  In fact, last season I attended more games than badger running back Lance Smith (I attended 11 games last season, while he only attended 7).  (On a side note, the team got to negotiate the details of his suspension, probably not something the band has the privilege of).  This year, although I had no idea I was getting into something like this when I decided to “try something new” during my 5th year of college, I am indeed fueling the other half of my childhood excitement, the UW Marching Band.  I don’t regret joining the band in any way.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Dave K

    Hey Matthew, what’s up with the band?!?!

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