Notre Dame takes great pride in the many musical opportunities that are available through the Band program. Whether you are interested in Marching Band, Concert Band, Chamber Music, Jazz, or Basketball/Hockey Band there is definitely a place for you in the Notre Dame Bands. Current students at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College are eligible to participate in the band program.
Joining the Marching Band
The Band of the Fighting Irish is the premier musical ensemble within the Notre Dame Band program. With over 380 members, the band has students from across the nation representing every field of study. The marching band performs at every Notre Dame home football game and select away games. In past years the band has traveled to games at Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida State, and USC. In addition to the home performances, the band has performed at Notre Dame’s “neutral site home games” in San Antonio, New York City, Washington DC, and Chicago.
Marching Band rehearsals are held daily, Monday through Thursday, during the Fall semester. Rehearsals are held in the late afternoon/early evening following classes, and last approximately 90 minutes. Game Day Saturdays begin with a morning march-out followed by a rehearsal in the Loftus Sports Center. The band then performs its traditional pre-game “Concert on the Steps” and then marches from the Main Building to Notre Dame Stadium for the game. Many students find that balancing band and academics helps them organize their time more efficiently. The average GPA of the band is higher than the University average and the band includes members from every area of study.
Auditioning for the Band
The audition process for the marching band consists of both a marching and musical audition. All students wishing to participate in the Band must attend band camp prior to the beginning of school. Auditioning students move into their dorms on the Wednesday prior to the first day of class. Band camp sessions are planned around freshman orientation activities so auditioning students are able to take part in both events.
Unfortunately, not everybody makes it into the Marching Band. Each year over 450 students vie for less than 400 available Marching Band positions. Acceptance rates vary depending on the section. Generally, saxophone, piccolo, clarinet, and drumline are the most competitive while tuba, 1st trumpet and baritone have the highest acceptance rates. Although there are minimum playing and marching standards that every student must meet, having a good attitude will go a long way toward making the final roster. If a student does not make the Marching Band they are strongly encouraged to participate in the other ensembles offered by the band program and audition again the next fall.
How to Audition
There are just three steps to auditioning for the Band:
- Sign-up to audition
- Prepare for your audition
- Attend Band Camp and complete your audition!
This article will cover each of these steps in some depth, but should you have any questions about the band, please take a look through all the areas of the Band’s website or contact us.
August 21st – Auditioning students may move into residence halls
August 22nd – Band camp begins
August 26th – 2013 Band of the Fighting Irish Roster posted
Signing up to Audition
Once you have decided that you want to audition, all you need to do is register to attend band camp. You can do this using our online registration form. After July 1 you can still register, but may need to arrange for your own housing. Once you have completed and submitted the form you will be added to our roster of students that will be auditioning. The band will then make arrangements for you to move into your on-campus housing on Wednesday, August 21st (two days earlier than the rest of the incoming students!). Additionally, you will be mailed a packet of information about band camp and sheet music to some of our school songs that you will use during band camp.
During the summer you will be issued a “band buddy.” Your band buddy is a current member of the band and a member of the section for which you will be auditioning. This person can be a tremendous resource for you. You should feel free to ask them any questions you have about participating in the band, the audition process, or life at Notre Dame in general. Should you have a question that your band buddy is unable to answer, feel free to contact any member of the band staff.
Prepare for the Audition
There are two elements of the audition process for the Band of the Fighting Irish: a marching audition and a musical audition.
The marching portion is run almost entirely by returning band members. These band members will teach a brief audition routine to all prospective band members over several sessions throughout band camp. The audition routine includes all the fundamental motions used in the ND Band’s performances and prepares the auditionee well to start on the right foot should they be selected as a member of the Band. There is not much you can do to prepare for this audition. Prior marching experience is definitely not required and Notre Dame’s marching style is unique enough that even people that have participated in a marching band throughout high school require instruction. A positive attitude throughout the marching audition and a willingness to learn and work with other band members go a long way in helping you put your best foot forward throughout the audition.
The musical portion of the audition is just 5 minutes long. Incoming students are asked to prepare a short 1 – 2 minute musical excerpt that they feel shows their playing ability well. This can be a portion of a piece they have played in high school, something they may have performed at solo & ensemble festival, or if they like, one of the school songs that they were sent with their audition packet. The auditions are heard by members of the band staff. In addition to the prepared piece, auditionees are asked to perform two sightreading excerpts and a chromatic scale. You should not worry too much about what you choose to play, but do prepare well so we have as accurate an idea of your playing ability as possible.
Attend Band Camp
Band camp at Notre Dame is not really a band camp. Band members can move into their dorms on Wednesday, August 21st and our band camp takes place beginning the Thursday before school starts and runs through Sunday (August 22-25). Each day includes a couple of marching sessions and sometimes a musical rehearsal. The days are busy, but you will have plenty of time to move into your dorm, get acquainted with campus, and attend all Freshman Orientation activities. Over the course of the 4 days you will receive instruction in the band’s marching style, learn the marching audition routine, complete your musical audition, and have a final marching audition on Sunday evening. The roster of who has made the 2013 Band of the Fighting Irish is then posted in the Band Building Monday morning, August 26th.
That afternoon the Band has its first rehearsal and begins preparations for the first football game!
Joining the Concert Bands
Notre Dame is proud to offer a comprehensive concert band program in addition to the marching band. Over 90% of the students involved in the concert bands are also members of the marching band making it a great tandem of activities to stay involved with music through your time at Notre Dame. There are three concert bands that meet each semester. The fall concert winds, fall concert band, spring symphonic band, and spring symphonic winds are all auditioned groups. The University Band is open to all students and includes faculty, staff, alumni, and community members as well. For more detailed information on the concert bands please visit our ensembles page.
Fall Concert Band Auditions
Students wishing to join the fall concert band or fall concert winds must audition prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Any students auditioning for the marching band may use their marching band musical audition as their audition for placement into one of the fall concert bands. Students not participating in marching band, or that play an instrument not used in the marching band (bassoon, oboe, etc…) may complete their audition on the day before classes begin at Notre Dame. Those students should sign-up for an audition time in the Band Building when they arrive on campus. The audition will consist of a prepared piece of the students choosing. This piece should be 1 – 2 minutes in length and can include any music that the student feels will best showcase their musical ability. Following the prepared piece the student is asked to complete some sightreading exercises and play a chromatic scale to demonstrate their range.
Spring Concert Band Auditions
Auditions for the spring concert bands are held each November. The audition consists of three prepared etudes and a pitch-matching etude, and a sightreading exercise. Students wishing to travel on international concert tours are required to audition for and be placed into either the Spring Symphonic Band or Spring Symphonic Winds in order to travel. Etudes are made available in early November of each year.
Joining the University Band
Participation in the University Band is open to all Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross students, faculty, staff, and alumni of all musical abilities. There is no audition required and anyone that plays a standard band instrument is encouraged to participate. University Band meets once weekly on Monday evenings from 7:30 – 9:00 pm during both the fall and spring semester and performs once at the conclusion of each academic term. If you would like to participate in the University Band please contact Alison Thigpen for more information.